It's easy to become jaded when you live in paradise, and sometimes it takes an outsider to point out the qualities that Lauderdalians tend to miss. Granted, travel writing doesn't dwell on negativity, but a recent article by Pamela Crouch Thrasher in the New Orleans Times-Picayune is puffery at its finest. There's even a nugget of real news there: Many local residents are unaware that a traveling exhibit of ancient Egyptian artifacts single-handedly pulled our dull, unenlightened metropolis out of the Dark Ages.
"Prosperity reigns here year-round!" writes Thrasher, who obviously hasn't spent much time cruising the Sistrunk Corridor.
"The sun-drenched city promotes its growing sophistication and cultural explosion with brash self-confidence," she notes. "Growing," "explosion," and "brash" sounds about right. Sophistication? That sometimes takes the form of a signature grilled BBQ salmon, glazed in a sauce of applewood smoked bacon, mangoes, star fruit, chipotle chiles, molasses, and fresh herbs.
"Stroll down Himmarshee and you can feel the energy. No surprise it's a mecca for young professionals." (In reality, when Tailpipe strolls down Himmarshee, all he can feel is warm Miller Lite sloshing in a plastic cup).
Thrasher even champions the rampant bulldozing of quaint mom-'n'-pop oceanfront motels to make room for new high-rises as progress at its best, "giving Fort Lauderdale a cachet it could only have dreamed of 20 years ago." Through her red-tinted PR goggles, Wayne Huizenga becomes one of the city's "major benefactors," nightlife is full of "grand opera and cabaret comedy," and in the near-empty Las Olas River House, "former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino is the condo's most famous resident."
Tailpipe is going to be more than his usually sympathetic self and hand Thrasher a ready-made excuse: She's clearly suffering from Katrina-induced post-traumatic stress disorder.
Big in the Disk Market
Tailpipe says, when it come to slippery operators, it's hard to beat the porn merchants. Take Peter Pasch. He has certainly done his mother proud. Back in 1998, Blanche Pasch handed her son $50,000 for his 50th birthday to open his own sex video store. She convinced her son-in-law, Jack Titolo, who already ran three adult stores in Long Island, to help the dream come true for her middle-aged boy.
The two businesses they founded, Megasex Superstore in Fort Lauderdale and University Video in Lauderhill, were immediate financial successes, but the partnership was disastrous (see "Porn War," January 15, 2004). The brother-in-laws have battled over ownership in Broward Circuit Court for four years. Titolo, an intimidating 300-pounder, has marshaled every stalling tactic in the book to keep the case from coming before a jury. The latest setback? A day before the case was set to go before a jury early this month, Titolo's attorney retired.
But Pasch hasn't let legal problems interfere with Mama's dream. Though he's been cut out of the profits from Megasex and University Video, he's slowly rebuilt a competing mini-porn empire. First, there was Complete Adult Video on Broward Boulevard, which features a handy "preview room" where patrons occupy tiny viewing chambers and feed dollars into a video monitor.
Now he's taken the war to his enemy's turf. When a storefront across the street from University Video became available, Pasch leased the spot, calling it Contrast Video. (The store was formerly Contrast Furniture, so Pasch had only to modify the sign.)
But Pasch has gained a new enemy: the City of Lauderhill, which is trying to revoke his business license under an ordinance that severely restricts adult-oriented businesses. Although University Video was grandfathered under the old provision, the new ordinance limits a new business' inventory to no more than 10 percent adult-oriented items. The rest must be "in-kind," meaning similar.
Pasch stocked his store with more than 200,000 disks only 22,000 of which are porn.
"Everything for sale here says disk," Pasch asserts. "There are karaoke disks. There are blank disks. There are adult disks. But they're all disks. A disk is a round, metallic object that holds information."
The city's Code Enforcement Board cried foul over the shrewd move, although porn stores in other Broward towns have used similar tactics. Hustler in Fort Lauderdale rounds out its inventory with a truckload of DVDs of the owner's biopic, The People vs. Larry Flynt. City officials wouldn't talk to Tailpipe about the meaning of disks or, for that matter, the meaning of porn.
But Lauderhill can expect a fierce fight from a mama's boy honed by four years of litigation. "I'm never going out of here," he says of the new store. He pauses. "It's a lot of fun, huh?