The New York Times today brings news of a “younger and hipper-looking” cadre of city inspectors now employed to “work into the wee hours, posing as patrons and hunting for tolerance of smoking by clubs’ employees.” This because, of course, the typical grown-man-in-a-bad-suit heath department employee has no chance of getting into the more exclusive clubs in the city, which are typically where smoking violations most enthusiastically take place (RIP the Beatrice). “Some of the clubs where smoking is going on tend to be very, very cool clubs,” health department counsel told the Times, “and a bunch of guys showing up in jackets tend to be very, very uncool.” The news follows the city’s recent decision to move to have places that violate New York’s smoking ban shut down, as opposed to fined–a move that hurts those it purports to help, since it puts the club employees that are theoretically entitled to a smoke-free environment in the unemployment office, where there is no secondhand smoke, but also no money or jobs.
Megaclub M2 Ultralounge looks to be in very bad shape indeed, and may become the city’s first sacrificial lamb in this fight. Others that got caught up in the January sweeps undertaken by the city, included beloved East Village nightclub Lit, the Box, Tenjune, Southside, etc., appear to be weighing settlements as their own day in court looms. Usually that involves offering a plan to end the smoking, paying fines, and taking the kind of deal Marlo takes at the end of Wire, where they let you walk but bring your case off the shelf if you’re found to have broken the law again. Speaking of unemployment, this seems like a wonderful job for out of work hipsters–roll out of bed at nightfall, smoke the night away in exclusive clubs, and then tell on everybody in the morning. Many people do this right now and don’t even get paid for it!