Monday, January 30, 2006
“Are you the one charging ten bucks to get in here?”
“Yep. If you’re 21, show me your ID and I’ll give you a wristband for the bar.”
He looked to the other three behind him. All of them were tall, hard-eyed, and… wearing bulletproof vests over hockey jerseys. Narcotics unit. Shit.
“Please stand back against this wall. Do you have a liquor license?”
I handed it over. The cadre of officers muttered into their squawkers and entered the former Victory Outreach Church, now just an empty shell of a building. Since four in the afternoon, I’d gotten a good workout hauling in speakers, amplifiers, turntables, beer kegs, and questionable decorations themed to coincide with the Chinese New Year. Paper lanters, dragons, and any other dodgy thing they sold in the Chinatown novelty shops. We even scattered Chinese takeout boxes full of fortune cookies on both floors. The party began at nine.
Now, at nearly midnight, about 300 patrons were inside drinking and dancing to obnoxiously loud house music, putting cigarettes out on the carpet, eating ecstasy, and getting their tarot cards read. I felt embarrassed. I’d just let a bunch of cops inside to shine flashlights into the eyes of drugged up children. Well, young adults. But still. What was I supposed to do? Slam the door on the police? I think not. That would be foolish.
I was just the door guy. Another friend, just the bar manager, sweet talked them and calmed them. I did the same. After thirty minutes of nervous anticipation, they decided to leave.
That is, until one drunk asshole yelled “Later, pigs!”
They fucked that guy up. He was hauled away. The burliest cops grabbed him, cuffed him, and lifted him off the ground by the shoulders. A full foot above the ground, his legs were trying to pedal an imaginary bicycle as they took him away. I actually thought it was pretty funny. He kept swearing. He came back to the party two hours later. They never charged him with anything.
Humboldt Park has a high population of blacks and hispanics, many of whom are gang members. The guy who rented the joint to us had a private office, and he and several tattooed gangbangers hid away there until the narcs left. When the police were gone, I went to talk to them.
“Yo, I’m Alvin. Five-Oh gone?”
"Yeah, they skipped out. They told me to keep things controlled and there’d be no problems. Seemed pretty nice actually.”
“They was narcs. They don’t give a shit about licensing, they’re just looking for dealers and shit.”
I was offered more insights into the intricacies of different police squads during the next few minutes. When the last guy introduced himself, I was struck by a realization.
“Wait a second.” I looked at all three. “You guys are Alvin, Simon, and Theodore? You’re shitting me, right?”
“They all looked at me hard, like I was about to read off their rap sheets. Violence flashed in their eyes. Not good. They didn’t get my lame little joke. Then one of their girlfriends busted up, and the rest joined in.
“Nobody’s ever pointed that out before? All you guys need now is a guy named David to play the piano.”
“Damn, dog, we tha three chipmunks. I ain’t never realized before.”
Just before three in the morning a different group of cops arrived. All seven had “Shakespeare” designations on their uniforms. Odd name for a unit. I made literary jokes. "Wherefore art mine licenses? To drink or not to drink, what a silly question!" They scowled.
Once they got inside and got the IDs of myself and the promoters, they stood around chatting about hunting trips and steakhouses. I loitered, waiting for instructions and information. At one point, I realized I had marijuana in my pocket. Oops. I almost never get it anymore, but I’d taken some of the door money to acquire a bag for the promoter. I knew he’d want it come sunrise. I had no out, so I decided staunch and stoic would win the day, and I stayed as near to the police as I could. You know, hide in plain sight? Worked perfectly. They never even gave me a ticket for lack of licenses. (They did set hearing dates for two others, but no formal charges yet.)
“So who’s got a hard-on for this place?”
The cops looked to each other. Nobody in particular seemed in the mood to abuse us poor children. Still, the question made me nervous. I interjected.
“Excuse me, but what does that mean?”
“We’re deciding how to handle this. See, thing is, Rich doesn’t want people without money to make money. Everything goes through him. You should know that. We’re shutting this down. You just stay quiet until we decide what to do with you.”
Good old Mayor Daley. If our only problem wasn't even big enough to warrant an immediate misdemeanor ticket or two, I felt pretty safe.
The cops were nice enough. Even bummed a few cigarettes from me. Nobody got arrested (apart from that idiot Paul during the first police visit) and we all went home happy. Tired, but happy.
It was difficult having two whole kegs and several liters of leftover vodka all to ourselves come Sunday sunrise, but we did our best. Today I feel like a loose shit crumbing as it rolls down a steep hill. How glorious. 5:34 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
Ink Inc. Part One
Sodapop Sizzle Skin
Busy Fizz Hippo
The Early Vultures