Unsubstantiated rumors and opinion, etc.

Seems the local constabulary had a busy weekend. Not only did the fire marshal team up with police to put a damper on all-ages venues (see Clubber, page 50), but another group of law-enforcement officials paid impromptu visits to a bunch of second-Saturday art galleries, both downtown and on Del Paso Boulevard.

The problem with the art galleries wasn’t excess capacity; it had to do with the free wine that has been a staple of art openings for as long as anyone can remember. All of a sudden, law-enforcement agencies are demanding that art galleries purchase a one-time liquor license to serve alcohol.

One gallery put it this way, in an e-mail: “For nonprofit galleries like the one I belong to, this cost will wipe us out, and we simply will not be able to provide wine to our patrons or artists anymore at gallery receptions.”

The cynical observer might snarl back, “Boo-hoo. Let them serve soda pop and mineral water.”

But that’s not the point. The point is this: It’s one thing to enforce laws already on the books, but making the enforcement of those laws selective and arbitrary is bad news.

Speaking of bad news, the local live-music scene is taking some hard hits, as the aforementioned Clubber column points out. Charles Twilling, who books Capitol Garage, has an interesting theory having to do with Clear Channel, which is said to be partnering with Randy Paragary to open a 1,000-seat venue at 15th and R streets in September. According to Twilling, whenever Clear Channel has gone into a city to open a nightclub—he cited Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco as examples—a police crackdown of existing clubs has occurred, coincidentally, a few months earlier.

In this case, Clear Channel (which owns music promoter Bill Graham Presents, the soon-to-be-christened “Sleep Train Amphitheatre” in Yuba County and local conservative-opinion AM radio stations KFBK and KSTE) is partnering with Paragary, whose business partner Kurt Spataro is married to KFBK air personality Kitty O’Neal, who produced a certain conservative commentator’s daily gabfest before he went national. Six degrees of Rush Limbaugh, anyone?

(At press time, neither Paragary nor a Clear Channel representative had returned our calls.)

To complicate the Capitol Garage matter, the besieged venue is right next door to the L Street location of a new Paragary’s restaurant, which will open this summer. Don’t want those ratty punk-rock kids driving away patrons at that upscale new restaurant, now do we?

Gosh darn it, I love America. Don’t you?