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Prince: Escovedo pulls coup with party but city wouldn't allow a performance.

The Fly

Royal Visit

It sure was nice of Prince to buy The Fly dinner. Since he never showed for his afterparty at PETE ESCOVEDO's following his Friday night show at the arena, Fly and visiting Chicago.com owner JOSH METNICK were among the lucky insomniacs who got to chow down on Prince's spread of pasta, Caesar salad and fries with ranch dressing sometime around 4am. The next night, we had just ordered drinks at South First Billiards when bartender and Metro circ guy VAO PELE spotted the shiny tour bus out front. We scrambled out and left our full drinks on the pool hall bar in time to catch Prince's grand entrance. Fabulously thin and very dapper in a white peacoat with high collar, matching white slacks and high heeled boots, the musician ascended to the former Pussycat Theater projection booth that's now the VIP lounge of Escovedo's swanky Latin music club. Prince stayed and partied like it was 1999 again for about four hours, smiling, running around, cheek-kissing and spontaneously exploding into dance moves. We're sure he didn't have an entertainment permit to get his groove on in high energy bursts; the city of San Jose, in all its small town wisdom, told the club owner it would take paperwork and five or six months to get a permit for an after-hours performance. Any real city would kiss Prince's microscopic derrière to be the location of one of his infamous surprise club shows. But official San Jose, of course, still underappreciates icons of American music—MAYOR GONZALES has yet to welcome the legendary Escovedo to town or visit his club—and it rolls up the sidewalks around 1:30am in a Homeland Security-style nightly ritual. So maybe it was a good thing that San Jose Downtown Association prez Jan Schneider rolled with Police Chief ROB DAVIS and Councilgal CINDY CHAVEZ Saturday night, dropping by Escovedo's on the historic night to see what a class operation hosting a world-class entertainer is all about. Chavez, on her first visit to the club, which is in her district, got to see the Princester up close for a fleeting moment. Unfortunately, the party was shortly thereafter over for most of the Prince fans, who were cleared out of the club by 2am, thanks to San Jose's ban on after-hours clubbery. Fly, however, stayed close to building owner RICHARD BERG and his beautiful Balinese wife MADE and managed to spend the next two hours shooting pool as Prince and crew let down their hair for their version of an office party, which involved a post-mortem review of raw video footage from the night's performance at the Pavilion. (Prince asked Escovedo, father to his one-time band mate Sheila E, to furnish the two billiards tables.) When Prince and Co. headed back to the tour bus at about 4am, fans were waiting by the velvet rope. "I only got to see the side of his head," commented Glo bartender ERICA GONZALES, but she found it thrilling nonetheless.

Operation Opera

Clubs on South First Street have become familiar to the police pulling the plug on all the fun in the bright lights, big city (not) way that San Jose's finest seem to feel is the only way to keep America's safest city from devolving into Baghdad-style anarchy. On weekend nights, that involves having the SoFA club district impersonate a crime scene, with blocked-off streets, military arrangements of police vehicles and club patrons herded toward their cars like cattle to a slaughterhouse. Now that the much-heralded California Theatre will be bringing upmarket patrons to the entertainment district for operas and such, can paying customers expect some changes? This week Opera boss IRENE DALIS took time out of her busy schedule to meet with the powers that be in an effort to ask the boys in blue to lighten up, at least during her opening night festivities this weekend. "Irene was concerned it would make a very bad impression if it appeared to be a high crime area with barricades and lights blaring and police encouraging people to leave the area," confirms Opera San Jose executive LARRY HANCOCK. "That would cast a bad image for a person coming to San Jose for the first time, and she was hoping it would not occur. That shouldn't happen to opera patrons on that night. That would be a very bad mistake." He notes that the closing time ritual would normally not affect his customers, but opening night will have a late night soiree that will let out not long before the clubs close.

Rally for Rudy

They pounded their sneakers on the pavement. They shot their fists into the air. They yelled till the veins stood out in their necks. But who heard them? The four-star hotel loomed like a sleeping dragon across the parking lot. Its darkened windows silently mocked the noisy protestors swarming along its outskirts. The activists vented at faceless cars and gripped signs that read "Killer Cops Teach Cops to Kill" and "Police Must Be Prosecuted Just Like Civilians." For five days last week, the Justice for Rudy Campaign rallied against the Central Coast Gang Investigators Association (CCGIA) conference in the Double Tree Hotel in San Jose. The group's board of directors includes state drug agent MIKE WALKER, who was arraigned last month under voluntary manslaughter charges for shooting and killing an unarmed man in the back, San Jose resident and father of five, RUDY CARDENAS. On Thursday evening, several dozen protestors, including Cardenas' daughters REGINA and CORINA, gathered to shout at the plainclothes officers somewhere inside the massive building. "Right now, they're strategizing on how they're going to brutalize our community," said QUETZA ORTIZ, director of the Barrio Defense Committee in San Jose. "We can't let this go on. [Police] are running around like vigilantes." DAVID MADRID, a writer who organizes after-school programs for children, led the pumped-up posse in a catchy chant: "Who let the pigs out? C-C-G-I-A!" He passed the amplifier to another exuberant voice, RAJ JAYADEV (who has written several stories for Metro about police shootings), who carried on, "CCGIA Get Out of San Jose!" Jayadev, an activist with Silicon Valley De-Bug, said the weeklong protest had an impact. Attendees at neighboring conferences inquired or complained, and he saw several CCGIA officers flip off the protestors as they drove by. "The only real power we have is that of disruption," Jayadev said. "And our goal was accomplished."

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From the September 15-21, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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

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