Gossip from March and April 2006
By Chris Busby
April 23, 2006
The League of All Leagues
The League of Pissed Off Voters may still be pissed, but it just got harder to tell. The youth-oriented political action group has dropped the urine reference from its name, and is now simply, The League.
The League is a national, non-profit organization that promotes progressive politics and strives to get youth involved in that boring concept called “democracy.” The Portland chapter of The League started two years ago, and meets regularly. Last year, it endorsed several candidates for city office, about half of whom won.
The League dropped the “Pissed” part for a host of reasons, according to a staffer at the local office. Among them is the fact there are a lot of leagues around these days, most of which are just referred to as “The League” among their members. The hope is that The League (Formerly Known As The League of Pissed Of Voters) will become what most people mean when they say “The League.”
“That’s a bad idea,” said Green Arrow, spokeshero for The Justice League of America. “Look what happened to the Legion of Doom. They tried to be just The Legion for a while, but the only guys who showed up to meetings were drunk old vets with video poker addictions. No one took them seriously again.”
Adios, Club Havanas
Havanas Night Club and Lounge, the Latin-themed dance spot that materialized last fall on the Congress Street side of The Stadium sports bar and restaurant complex, has packed up its maracas and disappeared into the night after just a few months of operation. Was it all but a dream?
Updated April 24, 2006
Phoenix, Press Herald rip off The Bollard
Lazy, unprofessional writers and editors at two corporate newspapers based outside Maine seem to have ripped off two stories first published in The Bollard.
The first offense happened April 11, when Portland Press Herald staff hack Trevor Maxwell wrote an April 11 article headlined, “City aims to triple Old Port bar fee.” Maxwell’s piece was basically a half-assed rewrite of our April 6 article, “City manager proposes to triple Old Port bar fee” (click here to read our piece; to read Maxwell’s, the Press Herald will need your credit card number and $2).
Maxwell wrote that Old Port bar “owners” are “outraged” by the proposal, but only quoted one bar owner, Alehouse proprietor Russ Riseman (we spoke with, and quoted, five). How did Maxwell know the anger was so widespread, or that some bar owners are considering legal action, when he quoted just one bar owner and quoted no one regarding a potential lawsuit? Could he have read the story on this matter in a certain local online news publication?
We thought that was a strongly possibility, and so figured we’d point this out by posting a comment beneath the online version of Maxwell’s piece in order to bring this to his attention and thank him for reading The Bollard. In early April, after the daily stole two Bollard scoops and likewise failed to give proper attribution, the Press Herald‘s online gatekeepers had allowed two readers unaffiliated with The Bollard to post comments calling the paper out on this.
Not this time. Not only was our comment censored (it was never posted), but unbeknownst to us at the time, another reader (not among the two who commented before) had also complained via an online comment submission, and his comment was not posted, either.
Press Herald editor Jeannine Guttman was out of town last week, so we left a message on managing editor Eric Conrad’s voice mail asking to discuss this issue. Conrad didn’t call back, and a day or so later the daily reported that he’s leaving to edit a much smaller paper in Connecticut.
Last week, it was the Boston-based Portland Phoenix‘s turn to pull the same dirty trick. Phoenix managing editor Jeff Inglis posted an item on his paper’s clusterfuck of a Web site April 17 reporting that Portland Police Chief Tim Burton promoted Lt. Ted Ross to a captain’s position in the department over the top Old Port cop, Lt. Janine Roberts.
Inglis didn’t quote anybody or give any indication he made any calls to get this story. The Press Herald reported in an April 15 brief that Ross had gotten the job, but made no mention that he beat out Roberts, an officer with a similar level of law enforcement experience and a cleaner criminal record (Ross pled guilty to driving drunk in an unmarked cop car a few years ago).
To get that half of the story, you’d have had to have read our April 14 article, “Once troubled cop promoted to captain” (you can read it by clicking here).
Finally reached by phone today, Inglis said he got the story when a source called him at home with the news on April 13. He said he subsequently confirmed the story through other sources, and never saw the article in The Bollard.
Though a casual reader might find this claim dubious, we’re now inclined to believe Inglis is a man of his word. His sourceless report, much of it cribbed from past Press Herald articles (without attribution), has several errors not contained in our story. And The Phoenix is so out of touch with local news that it makes sense Inglis does not read The Bollard.
Ignorance is usually a bad excuse, but in The Phoenix‘s case, we’ll take it.
April 9, 2006
Blood and chocolate
The Wharf Street space formerly occupied by the troubled dance club Headliners is being subdivided and leased to retail tenants, said landlord Steve Baumann. And across the street, the transformation of The Industry into an “upscale” pub called Right Proper Charlie’s is progressing, said owner Brian Hanson.
Hanson had previously said the dance club would reopen as a pub in February. That was during a tense meeting of the Portland City Council, during which councilors voted to reduce the number of liquor licenses available for bars in the area in an effort to stem alcohol-fueled violence [see “Council cuts three Old Port bar licenses,” News, Jan. 19]. Hanson said he now plans to open the pub in early May.
Baumann said the three new tenants in Headliners’ old space will be 2 Note, a bath and body product store catering specifically to women; Fuller’s Gourmet Chocolates and Ice Cream, which is moving a block down from Fore Street; and Thai’d in Knots, an Asian import store.
In addition, Baumann said he’s working with two parties interested in operating a restaurant in the adjacent Wharf Street space last known as Salsa.
Baumann’s father, Ed, bought a host of Old Port properties from notorious landlord Joe Soley several years ago. The Baumanns also own the Industry’s building and the Fore Street space Fuller’s is leaving.
Steve Baumann, a commercial broker with C.B. Richard Ellis/The Boulos Co., has said he is trying to improve the Old Port through his real estate activities. “Our entertainment areas are important, but we need good operators in there and a little more diversification,” he said while discussing his new tenants. The businesses are expected to be open by this summer.
March 28, 2006
Would Betty bail?
While an effort to keep to Portland Public Market alive hobbles along, vendors are beginning to firm up plans to move out and move on.
Scales, a seafood restaurant and retailer, is expected to close April 1. Owner Dana Street said most of Scales’ employees will be relocated to other restaurants and businesses he owns around town. Street added that he hopes to reopen Scales in another location soon.
Portland Spice Company plans to leave the market and reopen June 1 on Vannah Avenue, in the space last occupied by Haggett’s Cycle Shop.
Maine Beer and Beverage is actively looking for new digs. Though the shop’s lease runs through next January, owners Bill Milliken and Andrew Braceras can see the writing on the wall. “It’s kind of a dead end here,” said Braceras.
The Libra Foundation is still considering offers for the market and several other downtown properties it intends to sell as a package. A deal on that package could be made by the end of April, with a formal closing to follow a few months later.
The “Save the Market” campaign organized by some vendors in the wake of Libra’s announcement of the sale seems to be sputtering. At a meeting earlier this month, members of the campaign said they’ve gathered several thousand petition signatures in support of their cause, but have been unable to sway Libra officials’ attitudes in their favor. The campaign’s Web site, www.savethemarket.org, is up, but no events are listed and apparently only two people have written letters in support of the market.
Campaign organizer and former market director Ted Spitzer did not return a call seeking comment.
Save the Market organizers have approached city officials for assistance, but have been told that the city is unable to take over the public market or otherwise do much more to promote their cause.
March 21, 2006
Youngo’s, the coffee shop and music venue in Bramhall Square, closed last Sunday, March 19, after less than two years in business. Owner Gregory Young said the shop just didn’t make enough money and needed more capital to continue.
The coffee spot opened in the summer of 2004, in a space previously occupied by a pawn shop. Last year, Young got a liquor license for the business and said he planned to stay open at night and offer more entertainment. Those plans never materialized, though the shop hosted several notable local bands and performers on weekend mornings.
White Heart beating
The downtown nightclub scene took a giant leap forward on Friday, March 17, when The White Heart opened for business. The bar and cocktail lounge on the corner of Congress and Oak streets is a classy, but unsnobby, establishment serving beer, wine, cocktails and a light menu of offerings like mussels, shrimp, salad and skewers.
Portland pop chanteuse Darien Brahms headlined last Friday’s opening night entertainment, and there’s more live music to come. For more info, seewww.thewhiteheart.com.
I met her in a bar up on Munjoy Hill…
A new bar and restaurant is scheduled to open in mid-May in the Munjoy Hill building last occupied by 100 Congress. The establishment, to be called Bar Lola, is owned by Hill dwellers Guy and Stella Hernandez. Guy Hernandez is a partner in One Fifty Ate, the popular bakery/café in South Portland. One Fifty Ate co-founder Josh Potocki is also on board (read our Sept. 25, 2005, interview with Potocki here), as is former Fore Street chef Christian Kryger.
The 36-seat restaurant will serve dinner Tuesday through Saturday. No word on whether Bar Lola will have a special night for cross-dressers, but we hope there’ll at least be some Kinks playing on the sound system.
March 13, 2006
Awful news: Annie’s is for sale
In what could be a big blow to Portland’s working-class, neighborhood bar culture, Awful Annie’s Irish Saloon is up for sale. According to an employee, Annie, a.k.a. owner Ann Muller, has put the bar and the multi-unit apartment building it’s attached to on the market. The bartender said slow business is a factor in that decision.
Located about halfway up Munjoy Hill on Congress Street, Annie’s was formerly George’s Tavern, a neighborhood bar with roots that go back well into the last century. The employee said Muller has had the property listed for a few weeks (there’s a realtor’s sign out front), but has not yet found a buyer, and held out the possibility, however slim, that a surge in business could save the place.
Well, St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Maybe some loaded leprechaun will make a magical appearance. Stranger things have been seen there, and as generous. (Click here to read our Dec. 18, 2005, special investigative report on Annie’s.)
March 6, 2006
A “dynamite” Ladies’ Night
A week after the Portland City Council limited entertainment at 188 Bourbon Street on Sunday through Wednesday nights in an attempt to end problems associated with the club’s Wednesday “Ladies’ Nights,” Bourbon St. is advertising a new attraction: “Girls’ Night Out,” on Thursdays.
According to an ad in last week’s Portland Phoenix, “ladies get in free” on Thursdays, and get “$2 you call it drinks.” The previous “Ladies’ Night” offered free admission to females, but no drink specials, club owner Jim Albert told councilors last month.
Police had recommended that the council revoke Albert’s liquor and entertainment licenses last month, citing a string of assaults and other disturbances outside the club in the past year, most of them on Wednesday nights. (For more on this story, see our Feb. 23 article here.) Bourbon St. is part of The Pavilion, a nightclub and function facility on Middle Street that’s also home to Black Tie Catering.
Rather than yank Albert’s licenses, six of the nine councilors supported a motion to amend his entertainment license so amplified music and dancing must end by 11:30 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, rather than 1 a.m. Since many club-goers didn’t show up for “Ladies’ Night” until 11 p.m. or later, councilors reasoned that this would compel Albert to discontinue “Ladies Night,” thereby ending the problems.
After Councilor Jim Cloutier suggested this limit during the council’s Feb. 22 meeting, Councilor Karen Geraghty asked what would stop Albert from simply moving “Ladies Night” to another night of the week. Cloutier said the limit “sends a message” to Albert, who seemed disinclined to continue offering “Ladies Night” during the meeting, but made no pledge to end it. Geraghty voted against the renewals anyway, as did councilors Will Gorham and Ed Suslovic.
Asked after the meeting whether he would reschedule “Ladies Night” to another night, Albert said he would “probably disband” the special dance night, or “drastically” change it. He did not respond to a request for comment after the ad appeared last Thursday.
“It’s OK if he holds it,” Cloutier said of Albert’s Ladies Night last week. “He just needs to change it drastically. If there are a couple of fist fights, I think he’s gonna find that the entertainment license from the city gets revoked.”
“He is playing with dynamite for this kind of activity to occur,” Cloutier added. “He needs to pay real serious attention to everything the cops are telling him and make sure there are no fights.”
Albert “won’t have as much help from the police on Thursday nights,” Cloutier said, because “Thursday night is a big night on Wharf Street.” Police have dedicated as many as 12 officers to keep peace outside the club on Wednesday nights, particularly during the summer months.
Cloutier had also cited the crowds in the Old Port on Thursday through Saturday nights in response to Geraghty’s question during last month’s meeting, implying that the big crowds at Bourbon St. on Wednesdays would be more dispersed on Thursdays and weekends, lessening the probability of problems at The Pavilion complex.
Cloutier had also cited the possibility that scores of people could lose their jobs if Albert lost his licenses, noting that he holds the liquor license for the catering operations as well as the nightclub. Cloutier’s law firm holds its annual holiday party at The Pavilion.