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.
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."
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."
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."
You'll see it in large stacks around town, with articles shamelessly sponsored by big corporate advertisers.
Stay tuned for February's issue, which the old crystal ball tells Tailpipe will include stories about Yanni, Elton John, Andrea Bocelli, and Sarah McLachlan. (Oh, yeah, they're all scheduled to perform at Office Depot Center.) Just don't expect Live on Stage to ask Sir Elton anything along these lines: What about that smoldering touchy-feely relationship you've got going with Eminem?
Crime on the Menu
Say it ain't so, Jerry. Two weeks ago, Broward Sheriff's Office deputies nabbed Hollywood mob boss Gerard "Jerry" Chilli and 22 alleged mob associates, charging most of them with illegal gambling. But Chilli, who authorities claim is the Bonanno crime family's capo in South Florida, and Nicholas Pappas were also charged with dealing in stolen property. A BSO undercover sting called "Operation Coldwater" allegedly showed that Chilli had orchestrated the boosting of $300,000 worth of veal, liquor, and six-ounce salmon fillets, which he tried to unload on undercover detectives.
Ech, the mob can have its gambling profits. But when they start driving up the cost of comestibles (scallopini or blackened salmon are already pricey enough, to say nothing of the 'Pipe's usual brandy snifter of Wild Turkey and cracked ice), this cylinder starts breathing fire.
Watch out, because this tube just got word the mob food-skim is more widespread than BSO is letting on. More undercover operations, more busts in the works, include:
Operation Orange Fingers -- Investigations into allegations the DeCicco organization has been swiping Port Everglades-bound shipping containers of both the crunchy and puffy varieties of Cheetos and re-selling them to small-time vending machine guys.
Operation Tastes Like Chicken -- Detectives are searching for alligator nuggets taken by Dellacroce gang underlings in daring midnight raids on the walk-in freezers of various Quarterdeck restaurants. The 'gator meat is believed to be re-packaged for sale on the black market as chicken fingers.
Operation Chews on the Other Foot -- The Pedici clan purloined cases of Big Red, Bubblicious, and Juicy Fruit bound for Tamarac Cub Scout Troop 1105, then rewrapped and sold them to the Iraqi insurgency in packages emblazoned with George W. Bush's face and titled "Die, Infidel, Die."
Get the cells ready, boys. We're cleaning up the food business.
-- As told to Edmund Newton
Test Your Obit IQ
South Florida has long been called God's Waiting Room, but how do we describe it when He finally calls a loved one's number? This grim 'Pipe culled more than 700 recent Sun-Sentinel death notices for the answer. Most of the verbs therein are unsurprising, as almost all say a person ³died² (83%) or ³passed away² (10%). But some obituaries (about 5%) give more inspired descriptions of how the deceased in fact ceased. From the following list, can you identify the descriptions that actually appeared in your neighbors' obits versus the ones that came from ¹Pipe¹s fevered imagination?
A. "The angels came down from heaven for" a 43-year-old woman.
B. A 76-year-old woman "took the burning escalator to Satantown."
C. A 15-year-old boy "learned firsthand the dangers of autoerotic asphyxiation."
D. A 55-year-old man had a "new birthday in Heaven."
E. An 81-year-old man "went to do Jager shots with John Belushi."
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F. A 77-year-old woman "was called home by her Heavenly Father."
G. A 90-year-old woman "went joyfully to be with the Lord."
H. A 63-year-old man "blew his final cosmic wad."
Answer: A, D, F and G are real. (But the 'Pipe calls dibs on E.)