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Liquor Issues

by Fern Shen3:02 pmApr 7, 20140

Lust, lapses and poetry

ee cummings, Bubbles and a tardy Baltimore Katana, Inc.

Above: Before the Liquor Board, a licensee invokes a phrase from the ee cummings poem about McSorley’s Old Ale House: “snug and evil.”

Catching up on the Community Law Center’s Liquor Board reportage, we find that lawyer-blogger Rebecca Lundberg Witt has been busy recording not just the panel’s normal regulatory activity (and continued flouting of some rules), but also the poetry (intentional and unintentional) pouring out of City Hall Room 215 at the weekly hearings.

She was struck, for example, by “Snug & Evil,” an establishment planned in Locust Point at the site of the former Banner bar which takes its name from an ee cummings poem, Witt notes in “Booze News.”

“The name is meant to suggest a cozy bar that’s ‘a little bit debaucherous’ and ‘a little bit naughty,’” applicant Kelly Scott told the commissioners at the March 13 hearing where the applicants appeared, seeking to transfer a liquor license to 1401 Decatur Street.

“Snug and Warm Inside McSorley’s” begins like this:

i was sitting in mcsorley’s. outside it was New York and beautifully snowing.

Inside snug and evil. the slobbering walls filthily push witless creases of screaming warmth chuck pillows are noise funnily swallows swallowing revolvingly pompous a the swallowed mottle with smooth or a but of rapidly goes gobs the and of flecks of and a chatter sobbings intersect with which distinct disks of graceful oath, upsoarings the break on ceiling-flatness. . .

“Slobbering walls filthily pushing witless creases of screaming warmth?” It reads like the report a poetic health or liquor inspector might write up after investigating a typical complaint.

Anyway, let’s hope this new establishment lives up to its name poetically, but not too literally.

Lust and Caution

The language of one police officer’s report before the Liquor Board, in fact, was a bit too vivid for chairman Stephan A. Fogleman. Testifying on February 27, he warmed to his testimony about his banter with a dancer at a bar called Lust, at 408 East Baltimore Street, before arresting her for solicitation.

He complimented the tattoo on her back (that said “Blessed”), segued to asking for sex acts and learned the origin of her nickname (“She advised me that her name was Bubbles because of her–“), Fogleman cut him off and asked the officer to paraphrase.

Later Joel Fradin, attorney for the licensee, questioned the officer about whether the conversation clearly established an illegal transaction: “You never actually took her home. You were just kind of talking. . . There was no understanding between the parties about what may or may not happen in the sanctity of the club.”

In the end, though, the board found the licensees guilty of two violations and suspended the license for 30 days.

Intending to File Tomorrow

Meanwhile, the board itself ran afoul of the rules in an area cited as a chronic problem in last year’s scathing audit: they frequently fail to check the corporate entities to make sure they are in good standing with the state as required by law.

It happened on March 13, according to Witt. The board never checked the validity of the corporate entity in a license transfer case for Lee’s Place, 322 N. Franklintown Road.

The former licensee’s bartender had faced serious drug charges and there had been multiple violent incidents at the bar, said Mel Kodenski, attorney for Jacob & Jones Enterprises LLC. Witt said the board did not check the corporate entity for this case and that it did not exist as of March 25.

In an earlier license transfer, at the February 27 meeting, the board actually discussed the lack of a valid corporate entity, according to Witt.

They determined that the corporate entity didn’t exist (the articles of incorporation hadn’t been filed with the state), but gave the new licensees, 843-845 S. Montford Ave. Baltimore Katana, Inc., a break.

After a recess, they said they were going to move forward anyway because they were sure that Kodenski would file the articles the next day.

“For our purposes, it’s not a corporation yet, but it’s a corporation that all of you told me that you intend to file tomorrow,” Fogleman said. “We’re comfortable that we have all the corporate data that we need.”

“Baltimore Katana, Inc.” did not exist on the date of the hearing, according to Witt’s search of the State Department of Assessments and Taxation database. “Katana, Inc.” did exist, but was dissolved in 2010.

She said Baltimore Katana, Inc. was incorporated the day after the Liquor Board hearing – on February 28.

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