By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Three fights, one night. On Saturday, pandemonium broke out in three different New York clubs. At the Tribeca Grand, Axl Rose and Sean Penn were enjoying a private party thrown by Nur Khan and Tommy Saleh when Rose's assistant Beta Lebeis, a striking older woman with platinum white hair, was attacked by an out-of-control unidentified drunk patron. Axl Rose told me: "I was having a conversation with Sean Penn when these girls bumped into us. At first we ignored it, but they seemed fixated on my assistant, and did it again." The assistant, after recovering, chalked it up to a bunch of "drunk girls and name calling."
At the MisShapes party, sources say a patronwho was also a bartender at another venuebecame upset at the smoking in Don Hill's, and called 311. The MisShapes, Don Hill, and his partner, Nickie Camp, were in the throes of a three-way argument over the issue and turned the lights on, briefly stopping the party. It eventually continued unabated.
Those who looked around might have been confused to see Michael T sitting in the corner, as Saturday is also the night for his newly restarted weekly Rated X. But just a few minutes earlier at Midway (formerly Scenic), witnesses report, Michael T and his co-DJ, Theo, along with their host, Peppermint Gummybear, had staged a walkout. After a dispute with a patron and another over the guest list, Peppermint led the crowd in a chant of "fuck you" directed at the bar's owners (who, Fly Life readers might remember, were briefly considering booting the party over its risque nature). The bartenders, DJs, performers, and crowd swiftly exited the premises. (Neither Michael T or Theo returned requests for comment).
With all the ruckus-making out there, maybe Sheldon Silver's liquor license legislation will gain traction. The measure would freeze new applications and enforce the 500-foot rule, which states that no more than three licenses can be within 500 feet of each other, without exceptions. A public hearing on May 10 drew representatives from the hotel, restaurant, and bar industries, as well as residents who feel there are too many bars. Bigwigs, like Cristyne Lategano-Nicholas of NYC and Company, and small fries, like an aspiring bar owner, testified against the law.
"This is not a statewide, or a citywide, or even a neighborhood problem," said Robert Bookman, the lawyer for the New York Nightlife Association. "These are couple-of-block areas in a couple of neighborhoods where there's a problem that needs to be addressed and there's no easy answer."
"A number of different approaches and a number of different suggestions came out of that hearing," said Jim Quent, a spokesperson for Silver's office. "We'll collect the information and take the opportunity to bring it to the State Liquor Authority, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the NYPD at another hearing in the near future."
On Ludlow Street, Max Fish, the Dark Room, Pianos, and Motor City are bumper-to-bumper with liquor-serving restaurants like Paladar and Pink Pony. But Bookman pointed out that Ludlow is a C-6 areadesignated for heavy commercial use. "It's defined for use such as large hotels. I said, Why do the people on Ludlow Street even have a leg to stand on?' "
Rebecca Moore, one of the many residents fighting bar proliferation, counters Bookman's assessment: "To state that all the low-income residents who've lived in this obviously residential neighborhood for decades now have no rights simply because of faulty zoning is totally, completely cruel and inhumane."
Her colleague, photographer Anna Sawaran, a lifelong East Village resident, added, "The way the community is being portrayed is as whiners. We are not anti-bar. We all go out to bars. If bars soundproofed their premises, kept the doors locked, and took control of patrons, we wouldn't have these problems."