Sweethearts on Parade

Talk about your lunch-counter prejudice

Maybe everybody doesn't know your name at Hallandale Beach's homey Flashback Diner, but the management has some rigid ideas about gender distinctions. A couple of weeks ago, Rachel Arce and Jay Hamlett, a lesbian couple and long-time customers, were unwinding there late at night, as they frequently do after completing their shifts as night managers at retail stores. They sat next to each other in a booth. There were several hugs, a kiss on the cheek, and a taste of whipped cream by one off the other's spoon.

Soon, night manager Patti Bethea approached them. "Yeah, I know you guys are regulars, but I'm going to have to ask you to stop," Hamlett says Bethea told them. Hamlett asked if the manager was joking. "No, I'm serious," came the reply. "This is a family restaurant, not a gay restaurant. These people have complained." There was only one table of four older people sitting nearby.

Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

Bethea tells a different story.

"It started with tongue-kissing," Bethea contends. "You could see it. The one girl was, like, all over the other girl. The other girl had her hands all over the other girl's rear end. I had four people at another table who had to move because they were disgusted with what they were seeing." Flashback owner Toula Amanna, who wasn't there, ratchets up the incident a little further. The two customers were "basically having foreplay in the booth," she contends. "One had her leg on top of the booth and the other one sat in between her legs and laid on top of her. They stroked each other's body parts."

Oy, hot!

But sadly, Hamlett says now that she and Arce won't be flashing back to the Flashback anytime soon.

"I'm 35 years old and I live five minutes away," Hamlett says. "I don't need to make out in a diner."

Driving While Black

Jonathan D. Williams says he's been pulled over by local lawmen at least ten times since he moved to South Florida from New Jersey less than two years ago. For some reason, he says, a large 29-year-old black man from Weston who drives a Lincoln Continental with tinted glass seems to attract the attention of law enforcement officers. The charges have ranged from not buckling his seat belt and having an obscured registration tag to careless driving and driving without insurance (all right, he says, he was uninsured when he was stopped that time, but how did the cops know that when they pulled him over?).

Williams says that, on January 9, he was rolling westbound on Sunrise Boulevard when he started having car problems. After stopping the Lincoln to "inspect it for leakage," he says, the white driver of the vehicle behind him pointed a handgun at him and yelled, "What are you doing, you fucking nigger?"

A policeman working as a security guard at a nearby liquor store says Williams ran up to him and reported the incident, then asked for the officer's gun, saying "I'll take care of him." The cop didn't turn over his sidearm, but called headquarters.

When Fort Lauderdale cops arrived, they found 40-year-old Scott Davis grabbing a burger at a nearby drive-thru. In his pickup, they recovered a registered handgun. Williams told them he was "almost murdered" while Davis was "in fear for his life," according to a police report.

On February 8, Davis was arrested -- spending 13 hours in the Broward County jail on a charge of aggravated battery. If convicted, he faces up to three years in jail.

Of Williams, Davis says, "He's kind of crazy." Davis claims the Lincoln tried to run him off the road and then stopped suddenly in traffic. When the six-foot, four-inch 230-pound Williams got out of his car and approached him, says Davis, "I pulled my gun and said, 'Get back in your car.' But I did not point the gun at him."

Oh yeah, absolutely, says Williams.

Does he believe justice has finally been served?

"No," he says. "I feel like justice has been delayed."

Pseudo News

It's been a tough year for Panther Hockey LLC, the company that owns South Florida's NHL franchise and operates the 20,000-seat Office Depot Center in Sunrise. Thanks to that pesky strike, the company has been increasingly relying on Avril Lavigne's "Sk8ter Bois" to fill the arena rather than those real skater boys from the former Soviet Union with missing teeth and hard-to-pronounce surnames. These days, hockey's out. Mötley Crüe's in at Office Depot Center.

That's why you might notice a new publication 'round these parts, Live On Stage, a 44-page, um, newspaper. Published by Panther Hockey LLC and engineered to be a marketing arm for the arena, the monthly publication, which claims to distribute 100,000 copies throughout South Florida, is full of fawning features on music headliners. This on Jimmy Buffet (Saturday night at Office Depot Center): "Buffet capped off an incredible year by wrapping up his 2004 tour with a pair of sold-out shows at Boston's legendary Fenway Park." Good to know, eh?

In one column, managing editor Randy Sieminski (actually -- surprise, surprise! -- Panther Hockey's vice president of communications) is pictured in full corporate regalia. "It wasn't too long ago when I heard the word Usher and figured some geezer was about to help me find a spot for my backside," Sieminski snickers. "Nope, dear reader, Usher is one of them there R&B singers. You'll read about him as we play newspaper here at Office Depot Center."

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