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Dry Throat? The government wants you ... to stay home at night.


The War on Night Life


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IN THE WAKE of news that Katie Bloom's, San Jose's first Irish Pub, was denied a renewal of its 10-year lease and may be replaced by a Krispy Kreme, Metro's crack investigative team (not--as earlier misreported--Metro's "crack-addled" investigative team) has determined that the city of San Jose has been overtaken by a shadow governmental department known to insiders as the Downtown Night Life Prevention Bureau.

Initiated in 1992 to deal with San Jose's then-burgeoning and dangerously entertaining downtown scene after dark, the DNLPB has since slowly overtaken not only the city, but the Redevelopment Agency, the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Fraternal Order of the San Jose Police Department, to become the second most powerful branch of government in Santa Clara County. (The first most powerful branch of county government remains, of course, the Willow Glen War Widows' Quilting Bee.)

Metro investigators were able to uncover the existence of the DNLPB when an anonymous informant, who said he was "wracked by guilt over the department's activities, and also incredibly sick of watching television in the evenings; my dog has a better social life than I do," came forward. The informant would not give his real name, and prefers to be identified as "Dry Throat."

According to Dry Throat, the DNLPB's agenda is to "keep San Jose safe" at any cost. Among the bureau's successes which Dry Throat enumerated were the systematic removal of the Cactus Club, the Saddle Rack, Kleidon's Lounge and Plant 51.

Following these successes, Dry Throat says, "they've gotten cocky. They think they might be able to shut down Spy and Agenda under the Homeland Security Act, and they've written a communiqué to President Bush informing him that the term 'DJ' actually stands for 'Dude who supports Jihad.' I'm afraid that Bush just might fall for that."

When informed of the Downtown Night Life Prevention Bureau's governmental takeover, residents of San Jose held an impromptu neighborhood meeting/backyard barbecue at the house of Mildred Ambrose, 59. Opinions about the bureau's activities were mixed.

Harrison Beaumont, 64, a retired typewriter repairman from Campbell who has also worked as a stunt double for the late "Dave Thomas" of Wendy's, said he supports the DNLPB and hopes to see all saloons in Santa Clara County eventually converted into steakhouses. "What normal person would want to go to a bar downtown just to drink or see live music?" Beaumont asked. "There's no desire for that. Some people want a beer, maybe, but no one doesn't like a good steak."

Tawnya Alexander, 49, expressed a slightly different opinion, stating that bars should be allowed to exist, but that they should all be required to close at 8pm. "Why do you think they call it 'primetime' television?" she asked, provocatively.

Eldrige Sadler, 78, attended the meeting as a representative from the Burbank neighborhood, whose residents, according to Sadler, oppose any sort of night life in San Jose, and would in fact like to see nighttime banned altogether. He also explained why his neighborhood thwarted a proposed Burbank-centered international youth center and live-music venue: "There's just no reason why kids would want to play in a band. Not in San Jose. I just don't see that happening here."

R. Roy McCougherty, retired army colonel, theorized on possible key elements of DNLPB's operations: "The best way to kill a bar or live-music venue, at least in San Jose, is by a pre-emptive strike. You either rezone the property or you instigate a coup and make it look like it was just a landlord-tenant dispute."

He said that police using spotlights and forcing evacuations at midnight also set an overall unwelcome tone that's important to maintain.

Now that the cold war between San Jose and its night life has reached its apex, and the existence of the Downtown Night Life Prevention Bureau has been brought into the open, one has to speculate about the future of the DNLPB. Should it be dismantled?

"People might think the bureau is no longer needed in the post-night life era," said McCougherty, "but that's just not true. There'll always be rogue factions that want more clubs, more music, more night life, more things to do past 10pm. We just can't let that happen here. If people want that, they can go to Fresno."

Send a letter to the editor about this story to letters@metronews.com.

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From the February 6-12, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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