By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Williamsburg used to be the last frontier when it came to police harassing bars and clubs, but two Saturdays ago, the nightlife task force known as MARCH (Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots) raided Volume and Cash Checking. At an anti-Bush event thrown by the raucous INDYMEDIA at Volume, a large squad of cops, firemen, building inspectors, and representatives of the liquor control board cased the venue and wrote five building violations: four variations on the place-of-assembly rules, and failure to prove and maintain fire stopping where required. Needless to say, they shut the party down.
That job done, the party poopers headed down the street to Cash Checking, part-owned by one of the proprietors of Volume. DJ and promoter ERIC LAINE and DJ RAEDAWN of Nonostyle were among the 25 or so hanging out for what Laine, who was DJ'ing, describes as an "intimate night for professionals in the music industry. It's not a rowdy night and not a dance party." He adds that people who work at DFA, 'Sup magazine, and Warp Records often stop by on Saturdays. Cash Checking is also the site where DJ JEREMY RODRIGUEZ got a ticket for DJ'ing last monthor "Operation of a Reproductive Sound Device Without a Permit," as his summons says.
When the task force arrived around 1:30, Raedawn says, "There were so many cops, there were almost as many cops as people in the club." In addition to citing an open electrical box behind the bar, the squad ticketed petty violations like blinds in the windows (obstruction of view) and deemed the fruit flies in the garbage can a health hazard. RAMON SANCHEZ, who manages both Cash Checking and Volume, says, "It's the middle of August. It's, like, nature." When the cops turned the music off, the patrons in the venue, including Laine, Raedawn, and a DJ named MOSCO, started clapping to make "their own music." As the police began leaving, the crowd cheered. That did it. The police issued disorderly conduct tickets to Sanchez and Mosco and arrested (but later released) Mosco for not having ID. Laine says a friend's got the whole thing on videotape.
I have an idea. Why don't the dance police check out the modelizer clubs in the meatpacking district? They are surely a menace to society. Sanchez says the constant official visits to the two venues smack of a bizarre sort of profiling, not based on race or even class, but on a certain type of person. "It's not the average crowd. We play eclectic music. Maybe it's out of their comprehension, that people would come to a small 20-by-20 space and start a dance party. There's no harm done."
Well, money changes everything. We know. That same day, Team Fly Life took a break and went to its first Hamptons updo eventa polo match in Southampton. There we spied more outrageous outfits (matching hat and dress, paisley designs on the butt, and purses worth a small fortune) than we've ever seen in our short, scrappy life. We tried hard to fit in, wearing the most yuppie dress we could find, but the gigantic tattoo on our right arm gave us away. You can take the girl out of downtown, but you can't take downtown off the girl.
We were hoping for a sighting of PARIS HILTON in the leathery flesh, and as we got progressively drunker on mini-bottles of champagne, the lack of actual famous people inspired us to make up sightings. Said a friend, pointing to a blonde woman of a certain age: "I've seen her somewhere. In the gossip pages." We stared. Then it hit us. The woman had had so much "work" done that she resembled downtown trannie AMANDA LEPORE. Soon we were in a sea of Amandas sporting the Plastic Surgery Face. Just think, all their money got them was an uncanny resemblance to a notorious East Village transsexual. (Ms. Lepore, of course, would be thrilled.) We finally did get our Celebrity SightingKYLE MACLACHLAN, the Twin Peaks and Showgirls star, looking much older, but somehow perfectly preppy and in place at the polo match. He'll have to do, 'cause I ain't going there again unless Paris is my date. And I'm making her go to Cash Checking first.