You may recall that last month, we got our second ticket for allegedly "blocking the sidewalk" (which we weren't). The previous ticket we got for that same bullshit charge became mysteriously invalid with no explanation of what exactly that means.
Well, David and Barry went down to the so-called Hall of Justice yesterday to try and deal with this second ticket, and were told: "It's not in the system yet, but you can pay it now anyway. It will be $169." (Paying it doesn't mean we can't still get a court date to fight it: if you dispute a ticket you have to pay it first anyway.)
In hindsight, it occurs to me that if they had waited to pay it until it was "entered into the system" we might have found that it would never actually be entered into the system, or that it would have again been mysteriously "invalidated". I assume that paying it has made it "real". But, whatever; they had already waited in line for hours to get this far. That isn't free.
Now that I think about it, I believe this is the very first "valid" SFPD citation we've ever gotten in the nine years that we've been open.
I think you may enjoy this very long article in today's SF Weekly: Turning the Tables: Police have made a number of arrests and seizures of DJ equipment at underground parties and clubs. Is it enforcement or harassment?
Hello, I have returned from South By Southwest, and am again incredibly depressed by the stark contrast between a city that actually values music and nightlife, and my own.
There are two great articles in today's Bay Guardian, the first of which is the cover story:
The new War on Fun:
Party people, watch out: undercover cop Larry Betrand has declared war on San Francisco nightlife
The personal War of Fun by Bertrand and Ott seems to have galvanized and united the nightlife and festival community like never before, leading to the creation of a new California Music and Culture Association and prompting threats of a federal lawsuit alleging the ABC-SFPD collaboration is a racketeering scheme designed to harass, disrupt, and extort people engaged in otherwise lawful activity.
The myriad horror stories associated with Bertrand and Ott have also finally begun to draw attention from the Mayor's Office, which has quietly pushed the SFPD to rein in Bertrand and change its policies on raiding parties and seizing property. State Sen. Mark Leno also has gotten involved, brokering a March 12 meeting between club owners and Steve Hardy, director of ABC (which, in addition to cracking down on nightclubs, has recently announced a campaign against fruit-infused liquor). [...]
The question now is what Hardy, Mayor Gavin Newsom, and Police Chief George Gascon -- who has ordered some crackdowns and wants greater authority to discipline problem officers -- is going to do about it. [...]
The list of local nightclub clubs that have been recently targeted by Bertrand and Ott and subjected to ABC sanctions is long. It includes Great American Music Hall, Slim's, DNA Lounge, Mist, Whisper, the Room, Vessel, Azul, Butter, and Club Caliente (which closed down after its mostly Latino customers were scared away by repeated raids).
"Using the now familiar pattern and ruse of ABC authority, these raids have been without warrant and without probable cause, under the pretext of finding liquor violations," attorney Mark Webb wrote in a claim against the city. [...] Webb said such behavior isn't legitimate police work, but unlawful harassment. In fact, this experienced litigator said it's far closer to the shakedowns and extortion rackets familiar to him from the start of his legal career in the late 1970s prosecuting organized crime cases in New York City.
That's why he's threatening to bring a novel lawsuit against the city and ABC under federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, a law designed go after the mob, but which has since been adapted to target entities ranging from the tobacco industry to the Los Angeles Police Department.
And an editorial:
End the nightlife crackdown:
Harassing parties and clubs shouldn't be a priority for a cash-strapped city's police department
Police Chief George Gascon has asked for more authority to crack down on rogue cops, and has vowed to clean up the small handful of bad actors who are giving the department an ugly reputation for violence and abuse. But before San Franciscans are going to trust the chief, he's got to show some evidence that he's serious -- and cleaning up the mess that is Southern Station's crackdown on nightlife would be a great place to start. [...]
It's a pointless waste of law enforcement resources. In a city where a significant number of murders remain unsolved, where merchants complain about street-level crimes that could easily be addressed by foot patrols, and where the chief complains that he lacks the funds to address all the problems he's facing, we can't fathom why stopping nightlife is a top police priority. At the very worst, some participants and promoters might be guilty of holding an event without the proper permits -- but nobody's getting robbed, assaulted, or killed. And the tactics used by the officers are needlessly violent, sometimes brutal. [...]
Mayor Gavin Newsom needs to get involved too, and make a clear public statement that harassing parties and clubs isn't the top priority for a cash-strapped city's police department.
Photos of last week's Hubba Hubba Revue are up, too.
Some security camera footage of Bertrand and Ott's raid on The Room has recently been made public. The first part of this video is narrated by the bartender who was assaulted, the second by another witness.
A summary, from the video's description:
Last June, SFPD's Larry Bertrand and ABC's Michelle Ott came to bust The Room. They arrested 31-year-old bartender Javier who had left his ID at home, even though Mike Quan (the club's owner) offered to show them a copy that he had in his office. This surveillance video shows Bertrand kneeling on Javier's neck and twisting his arm.
They also confiscated most of the stock in the downstairs bar. Bertrand and Ott poured out an estimated 24 to 30 bottles of alcohol that were already open after Ott claimed that there were fruit flies in one of them.
Another segment shows DJ equipment destroyed by SFPD/ABC officers without any reason.
I thought I'd share with you an incident report that I recently received:
At or around 12:30AM on the evening of Friday, Mar 26th during the Trannyshack event, I was at the back door when I observed a customer (black male, 5' 10" - 6', average build) wearing shorts, a vest and glasses pull down his pants and begin urinating in the garbage can located in the alcove to the back door. I approached him and informed him that he was no longer welcome in the venue. He shoved me and refused to leave. I repeated that he was no longer welcome in the venue and he attempted to shove me again. I physically restrained him and began moving him towards that back door. He became verbally abusive. [Another staffer] approached and began speaking with him and I reentered the venue. The customer remained in the vicinity for approximately 90 more minutes. [Staffer] persuaded him to leave after he retrieved his property from coat check.
What the report doesn't mention is that during those 90 more minutes, the customer stood on the sidewalk screaming that we were Nazis.
Because do you know who else didn't let you piss in hallway trashcans? That's right. Hitler.
You may recall that this is not the first time I've told a story very much like this one. What the hell is wrong with these people?
Speaking of the webcast, the panning camera -- the servo-mounted camera that is mounted on a beam and does most of the work of covering the stage during live shows -- finally lost its mind, so the webcasts of live shows have been a bit static lately. We suspect that one of the Filthy Clowns destroyed the cable coming out of the camera while stomping around up there doing aerialist rigging. (It's not the first time they've done this; clown riggers are remarkably careless about other people's gear, you will be unsurprised to learn.) But, the cable in question is hard-wired in to the camera and difficult to replace, so I bought a new (used) version of the same camera from eBay. It hasn't arrived yet. Hopefully it will be no more flaky than the current camera, but I'm not holding my breath on that.
For the Google Juice: Do not buy a Panasonic WV-NS324 camera, it is junk! One of the worst electronics purchases I have ever made.
I probably should have tried to find a better camera, but it's actually pretty difficult to find a pan-tilt-zoom camera that is A) good in low light, B) network-controllable, and C) has an NTSC video output. Most networked cameras are shit in low light, and only output digital video over the network, which doesn't help me.