From the citizens of Hollywood to our esteemed City Council: Thank you for outing DJs as the minions of Satan we've always suspected them to be. Last week, by a vote of 5-2, you passed a measure to ban DJ music after midnight at our most nefarious dens of sin. Come January, places like Sonar and Club Xit -- both recognized as well-behaved contributors to the city coffers, though they're breeding grounds of that confounding, beat-driven music that's dangerously easy to dance to -- will have no choice but to shut their doors. That is, unless they spend big bucks to become restaurants, devote two-thirds of their space to dinner seating, and take in more money from food than booze. Less nightlife, more chicken wings. Sweet.
We need and fear and respect you, Mayor Giulianti and the Culture Vigilantes, for helping to mend the frayed moral fabric of our quiet, sexually repressed, bedroom community. Your plan is so oddly conceived and misguided that we can only assume you have our best interests at heart. After all, we elected you, assuming that you were not completely out of touch with the vibrant, local arts scene that could potentially distinguish Hollywood from its sterile sister cities across Broward. Please, clean up our dirty little town!
The details of your agenda are thrillingly vague: Really, what constitutes "DJ music," Mrs. Mayor? Whatever it is, we believe your explanation that it incites "anti-establishment feelings," opening the field for Police Chief James "I'm No Racist; I Just Hate Hip-Hop" Scarberry's legmen to selectively enforce your noble edict. DJs spinning 45s at Club M? Vandals. Flamenco music pumping from a PA outside La Baraca? Planting the seeds of chaos. Adults inside Sonar and Xit, dancing and drinking with money earned from serving our dinners, repairing our SUVs? Firebombing anarchists. So we say, banish them all to South Beach with the rest of the young, baggy-pants freaks! And keep the brie and pinot grigio flowing.
Truth is, your reasoning is so absurd that we don't know whether to laugh or cry. Certainly, David Gale, Xit's owner, and Sean Lankry, owner of Sonar, aren't laughing. Neither are the patrons of their clubs or the DJs who make a living playing there. It seems the only way to tackle this ageist cultural jihad is through high drama. So in a joint effort between Beatcomber and Night Court, with apologies to Arthur Miller, New Times presents a play in one act, titled The Inscrutable:
Curtain opens on a harshly lit meeting room identical to every harshly lit meeting room in every city office in every state of the nation. This one is in Hollywood, Florida, on a humid, mid-July afternoon. A heavy-jowled Mayor presides from a large, comfy chair as one club owner after another prostrates himself before her and the attendant City Council. Despite the season, the councilmen and women are all dressed in dark wool frocks or overcoats, cotton bonnets, or buckled stovepipe hats. Goodman Lankry, proprietor of a popular entertainment establishment, pleads with the stony-eyed council. [Note: Goodman Lankry's dialogue is taken verbatim from city documents. The rest is, um, embellished. But only a little.]
Mayor (eyes wild, spittle flying): Goodman Lankry, we saw your compatriots trafficking with the devil! Dancing in your "nightclub" to the infernal sounds of a "dee jay!"
Lankry: Whether you are in touch with 2006 or not, the DJ is considered an artist just like anybody else, and that should not be connected to the way that I generate money for my business.
Mayor (hysterical, voice cracking): You will not sell liquor while you play your devil's music! You will not play your devil's music while you sell liquor! From this day forward, the two shall never coexist in the same room after midnight! (Evenly) Unless you bring in a cover band or serve chicken wings. Then it's OK.
Lankry: We pride ourselves on being a downtown of arts and entertainment, and this is another censorship of art...
Booming male voice, offstage: Time's up, sir.
Mayor (lustily, her quarry in sight): All in favor, say aye!
Five councilmen: Aye!
Mayor (this woman is clearly out to lunch): All opposed, say nay!
Two councilmen: Nay?
Mayor (euphoric): The motion is passed! (bangs oversized gavel) You will pack your bags, Goodman Lankry! And take your "records" with you!
Lankry (exasperated but composed): I'm an outstanding citizen, and I'm about to lose my ass for what?
Male voice again: Sir, we don't use that type of language here.
Back in the real world, 1 a.m. this past Saturday night, it was business as usual on Hollywood Boulevard. Hip-hoppers lined up outside of Xit, Sonar hosted a well-attended, well-behaved, well-mascaraed goth party. Any "anti-establishment feelings" were apparently concealed behind black leather and spidery dance moves. Still, there was a notable sense that the lights are going out on Hollywood just as they're beginning to shine. Lankry was incensed at being forced to abandon a project into which he's poured half a million dollars and two years of his life. He conducted business with the same smile as when he opened Sonar's doors 18 months ago, though he seemed resigned to his fate: "What can I do? I'm not a restaurateur. I'll try to sell, then go do real estate like everybody else."
Across the street at Club M, DJ Ben Carillo, a spectacled deck-wrecker from Miami, was spinning classic soul, funk, and R&B. He was far from discouraged at Hollywood's attempt to thwart his new monthly, Jaques Chirock. "I'm excited to play up here, and I'm gonna keep doing it till they make me stop," he said. "There's always a solution to things."
Maybe. But when there's a witch hunt involved, somebody gets burned at the stake.
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