From Bartender to Mayhem Man: Talking to Dean Winters

Dean Winters is living that dream. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, he was a NYC bartender pursuing an acting career. He worked all over town and everybody knew him. He was and still is one of the good guys. In the mid ‘90s he broke out big with numerous TV roles. His Ryan O’Reily character on Oz had me tuning in for years. His Johnny Gavin on Rescue Me kept me glued to the set. Now, because of a TV commercial deal that he almost turned down, he is recognizable to everyone. He is Mayhem, that Allstate gremlin of a man that shows us how dangerous and unpredictable our world can be. He knows a little about that. He had a near-death experience in June 2009 that left him little short in some areas but certainly long in experience and self-awareness. He has always been a friend and supporter of mine, and when he sent me the following e-mail, I gladly gave him this space to tell us all about it:

"Hi, I’m a big supporter of The Heroes Project and I’m excited to finally share the campaign we’ve been working on. I just launched a Wish on Facebook Causes to support the organization. The funds raised will go toward The Heroes Project’s upcoming Indonesia climb with US Army Retired Sgt. Noah Galloway who lost his left arm above the elbow and left leg above the knee in an IED attack in Yusufiyah, Iraq. You can check out the Wish page and donate here. This project is near and dear to my heart so I’m trying to get the word out wherever possible. Any love you can show on Facebook or Twitter would be greatly appreciated! Thanks, Dean"

How did you get involved with The Heroes Project?
I was introduced to ‘Big Tim’ Medvetz by my L.A. family Richard and Laurie Stark, creators of the Chrome Hearts dynasty, a couple of years back. Tim and I immediately became fast friends. He had been a bouncer at Hogs ‘N Hefers back in the day and a former Hell’s Angel. A number of the Angel’s had been on Oz and I had bartendeded in the clubs so we had immediate common ground. The guy is built like a brick shithouse: 6’5" at around 250lbs – the kind of guy you want on your side, no matter what. Cher, who is also a member of the L.A. family, was an early advocate of The Heroes Project as well, so all of their passion for this project was intoxicating. Having a climbing background as well provided this whole experience for me to be a no-brainer.

What can people do?
People can simply go to The Heroes Project website and donate 10, 20, 50 bucks, any amount helps really, to help fund Tim’s next climb. It is Tim’s sole mission to help restore the confidence in America’s finest young soldier’s after they have suffered these debilitating injuries, by getting them to face their worst fears realized and helping them to climb these peaks all over the world. Watching these young soldier’s summit with prosthetic arms and legs has been a life highlight for me. I’m hoping it will be for other folks as well. Like so many others, you were a bartender in NYC chasing a dream to be an actor. I guess nowadays you are recognized as “that Mayhem dude.” Tell me how you worked at being an actor, your breakout, your career, and where you are going? Also… do you miss bartending sometimes? 
I have had a very rewarding and a very peculiar career, one that I could never have come close to predicting. I have been fastidious to a point of nausea by trying to remain a NY actor. I like L.A. but only for a quick wind sprint, but I also realize that that is really where the business is so I am planning to spend more time there in the future. When we did Oz, which was the first drama series on cable, it was so raw, in-your-face, and new that I think we were all scratching our heads when it was over and thinking “now what?”

Tina Fey and every single faction of 30 Rock has been an absolute gift to me; that cast is one of the fiercest casts in the history of television. So with Oz, 30 Rock, Rescue Me and Law and Order: SVU, I have been spoiled in NYC. Everyone in this business knows that to be spoiled as an actor in NY is the Holy Grail. When Allstate first came to me with the Mayhem campaign, I was reluctant. My smartass answer was no because I became an actor so I wouldn’t have to put on a suit and sell insurance. My dumb ass. My managers – Bill Butler and Sandra Chang – quickly steered me in the right direction. I’m lost without them, and this campaign has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. One of the smartest decisions anyone has ever made for me (wink*). The sheer talent behind the people at Allstate and Leo Burnett (the ad agency out of Chicago led by Britt Nolan) is mind boggling. The creativity in the campaign is beyond what I would ever have expected.

As for bartending, I worked in 17 bars and clubs in the ‘90s. I do miss it sometimes. The music back then – the actual clubs – nothing like that will ever happen again in NY. You can thank the real estate market and a few no-fun politicians for that. With bartending came a certain amount of power and control – two things I am missing in my career these days. It was fun to be the captain of a crazy ship every night, never knowing where your actual destination was or where you were going to possibly be shipwrecked. Wouldn’t trade those days for anything.

I still run into you on occasion at a club or an event. Where do you like to go and what is it about the night that still draws you to it?
It’s always a pleasure to run into you Steve. I feel like I’m not the only one looking around wondering “what happened?” It’s different now, yes, but you have to admire the moves these young guns have made. Richie, Scott, Jason, Noah, Satsky, Ronnie, The SL crew. I mean I remember when those guys all reported to you. Now they have legitimate empires. Very impressive. I’m an old house-head and that music is slowly disappearing into this new horrible cesspool of dance music. You couldn’t fuck with the likes of Junior, Danny, Frankie, Little Louie, Victor, Boris. And sometimes they all played on the same night at different clubs around the city. Insane. I’ll dip into Provac or Pacha for the house. Ritchie, Scott, Noah, and Jason seemed to have pinned down the baby giraffe crew.

God bless Amy Sacco and David Rabin, true warriors if there ever were any in NYC. David was actually the first club owner I ever worked for, back at Rex. I’m also real happy in my hood. A pint of Guinness at Ear Inn suits me just fine these days. Don Hill was a very close friend of mine and his passing rattled NY nightlife to the bone. I truly miss that man. NY is NY though; it is the greatest city on the planet, nothing even comes close. I am very proud to be from here; I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

Lyon Gets Revamped As Cole’s Greenwich Village

I was sad to see the French brassiere Lyon go last year, but with the onset of Cole’s Greenwich Village in the old spot, parting isn’t such sweet sorrow. After all, the new joint, owned by Lyon’s own Penny Bradley, skips the coque au vin and steak frites, and instead, they specialize in dry-aged Prime New York Strip, fresh pasta, and novel takes on classic cocktails.

On the food side, Bradley has commissioned chef Daniel Eardley, from the now closed Chestnut, who brings his knowledge of seasonal and local cuisine to the table. Try dishes including the grilled sardines with duck-fat potatoes, Eardley’s Tuscan kale salad with parmesan, a double-cut pork chop with white polenta and fig jus, and their stout-braised ribs.

Handling the drink side is booze maverick, Johnny Swet from Jimmy at The James. This means you can waltz into the corner bistro and try drinks laced with all sorts of fun stuff including honey, sage, mint, and peppercorns. Swet acts as a managing partner with David Rabin from The Lamb’s Club and Jimmy at The James‘s Larry Poston.

The space, while it maintains the integrity of its triangular shape, now is decked out with prints and sketches giving it more of a gastropub feel than the classic French that was there before. It’s 2013 folks, just like Bradley, I say, out with the old, in with the new-old-style eateries. 

Industry Insiders: David Rabin, Johnny Swet, & Larry Poston of Jimmy at the James

When you ask three nightlife veterans to transform the top of one of New York’s most fashionable new hotels into an intimate lounge, the result is bound to be exciting. But with the opening of Jimmy at The James hotel in Soho, David Rabin (center), Johnny Swet (left), and Larry Poston (right) have created nothing less than an 18th-floor paradise, with original art on the walls, creative cocktails on the menu, and breathtaking views of lower Manhattan from every seat in the house.

Jimmy is the latest in a string of successful nightspots for Rabin, who left a career as a lawyer to open Rex in 1990. Its success quickly led to other endeavors, including the first western-style nightclub in Moscow. (“I still haven’t told my mother half the stories,” Rabin says.) Back in New York, he and his business partner opened now-classic venues Union Bar, Lotus, Double Seven, and the Lambs Club. When approached about Jimmy, Rabin jumped at the chance, provided he could bring along two uniquely creative talents. “I was blown away by what Johnny and Larry created at Hotel Griffou,” Rabin says.

Swet’s introduction to the nightlife industry came just days after moving to New York from Los Angeles, landing a job at the Bowery Bar on the day it opened. “They said, ‘That’s your table,’ and Courtney Love was sitting there. I was like, I think I’m going to like this.” He was soon working with Keith McNally to open restaurants Balthazar and Pastis, and eventually became the general manager of Freemans. But it was the exclusive West Village boîte Hotel Griffou, which he opened with Pastis maître d’ Poston in 2009, that made him a perfect fit for Jimmy.

A native of North Carolina, Poston began his career as an actor in LA, which led to a job as a pool boy at the Chateau Marmont, passing out towels to Julia Roberts and once dropping a full room-service tray in front of André Balazs. He made the move to New York, learning the ropes at Pastis and Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn. While it’s not even six months old, JImmy is already looking like a downtown institution, drawing a healthy mix of New Yorkers, hotel guests, and celebrities. The party is even better during the summer, as the outdoor terrace and pool deck let the fun spill out under the stars.

[Photo: Brett Moen]

NPC Tonight: Because the Night Belongs to Lovers

Tonight is the first night of the rest of our lives. The Nightlife Preservation Community party at M2 tonight will bring out the masses. But before the hoi polloi gather, a serious schmooze-fest will be taking place between the owners and operators of clubs and politico types who are RSVPing in droves. The politicians are predictably figuring out that the hundreds of thousands of voters enrolled in the marketing banks of club promotional entities can make a big difference in upcoming primaries and elections. The final DJ lineup ensures a huge turnout. Chloë Sevigny will introduce New York Nightlife Association honchos Rob Bookman and David Rabin — sometimes known as Batman and Robin. With only a little help from some friends, these two have fought the good fight for many years. At times, they have been the only thing preventing the industry from collapsing under the weight of oppressive legislation and enforcement. The NPC will give them new tools to forge ahead with a more cooperative effort between the city and the clubs. We are not trying to fight City Hall; we are trying to have City Hall recognize nightlife, a $10 billion industry, as a useful revenue-generating tool in these dark economic times.

A very famous philosopher once said, “You have to fight for your right to party.” Hopefully the fighting will be a distant memory and the city will approach nightlife like Las Vegas has with its “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” campaign. The NPC proposes a loosening up on “The Big Apple” motto and an invigoration of “The City That Never Sleeps.” The later motto is much better at promoting tourism and therefore jobs and tax revenues. Today’s post is short, and hopefully you will find it sweet as I have much to do before the event. I will see you there.

Franklin Becker: Michael Feraro Is Head Chef @ Delicatessen

imageI guess that in the world of kitchens, there can definitely be too many cooks. Although I thought I had it right (and maybe Eater did too), it seems that Franklin Becker’s role at Delicatessen is squarely that of consultant, and Michael Ferraro is actually the man running the show. I ran into David Rabin, who tipped me off on the Delicatessen story, at a meeting yesterday. David didn’t want to stir the soup and thought it was no big deal but was appreciative that I was going to clarify today, so below I’ve included a letter directly from Franklin Becker, which explains the situation.

Hey Steve,

Thanks for all the kind words you said about me. I just want to correct things a little. I am the consulting chef at Delicatessen, not the chef. I was brought here two months ago to assist Michael with the project. He was faced with having to redo the menu at Delicatessen, open new projects, add delivery services and launch late-night dining at the restaurant. He walked into a space that was very unsettled and needed to react to things very quickly. Since we have a friendship that dates back four years we thought if I came in it would give him the support that he needed to meet his timeline. That is all. The menu — which I think is delicious — is Michael’s and should be looked upon as such. He has been working hard on this for three months and is poised to make a splash. Delicatessen is a beautiful establishment serving affordably priced comfort food that is created by an extremely talented chef, Michael Ferraro.

Thanks for the understanding, Franklin Becker

Industry Insiders: Eugene Remm, Tenjune

Eugene Remm, the sovereign of Tenjune, talks about working his way up from the mailroom to picking up the slack in nightlife industry, and what he’s got on the books for ’09.

What are you doing tonight? Going to Tenjune!

Where do you go out? Gramercy [Hotel] is one of my favorites because they have a great scene, great design and great people who work there. Pastis always stands out because they know how to treat regulars. That combined with the great food and great staff makes for a consistently good dining experience. Charles has the appeal of an intimate restaurant where the owners treat you like family and the food is really good.

What’s your job title? I am a Partner in EMM Group, a Nightlife and Hospitality group that owns and operates businesses including Tenjune, Four Hundred; our members-only concierge company, our Hampton property The EMM Group Estate and our hotel bar The Chandelier Room.

Who do you admire in your industry? I worked for Steve Hanson and always admired the way he created a great multi-restaurant operation focusing on hospitality and top-notch, consistent service. It was an amazing learning experience for me before leaving to open Tenjune and developing the blueprint to build EMM Group’s multiple venues. Ian Schrager is another person who really stands out as a pioneer in many businesses. He took the most exclusive nightclub formula and grew it into a hotel empire. When people use the term ‘he gets it’ in my opinion no one represents that more than him.

Any downsides to working in nightlife? The lack of work ethic of some people who work in this business. There are people who still believe that if they just show up for the three to four hours of service that they are doing their job. When in actuality the job is now more 24/7 than ever.

What is something that people might not know about you? That I moved to New York and started in the mail room at a big PR firm.

Best place to spend New Year’s Eve? Miami at The Shore Club.

Where’s your dream spot for a venture? I am living my dream in my dream spaces. I have all of my businesses within three blocks of home and I don’t even have to get in a cab to do what I love to do.

What do you have going on in 2009? The opening of our first hotel bar in Hoboken and our new restaurant and club on 14th Street in the Meatpacking District.

Good Night Mr. Lewis: New Year’s Eve Saved!

imageWhile most of us were trying to figure out if there will be a Christmas this year, there have been unsung heroes fighting to ensure that we have a great New Year’s Eve. Normally, venues apply for a late-night license that permits serving booze into the wee hours of the night, allowing them to get a much-needed revenue boost before winter sets in and business literally goes south. But it seems that the SLA snuck in a rule this year stating that clubs, restaurants, and bars, which normally file for the late-night extension by the first week of December, had to file by November 17. This new rule seemed sure to create havoc; however; no havoc was to be seen and no shouts of protest were heard, as very few people knew about it. The SLA decided not to announce this ruling save by posting it on their very popular website, where all of maybe ten people might have noticed it. When asked why they would do business in this way, they reportedly answered that people should check the website. We all know that everyone is too busy clicking in here, on DBTH, and Guest of a Guest to have time for that.

Well, lucky for us, nightlife’s version of Batman and Robin — Robert Bookman and David Rabin of the New York Nightlife Association — made a stink. In the first sign of intelligent life up there in a very long time, the SLA did the right thing, and the deadline for filing has been extended until December 5. The fact that a dialogue between the agency and the NYNA occurred — and that a positive action was the result — is reason to be cheerful. This ruling by the SLA represents a return to form for an agency that used to be reasonable and efficient. According to Bookman, there are, as of this writing, approximately 2,400 licenses waiting for review; a normal two- to three-month wait has now extended to six or seven months.

In this economy, such a delay should be examined by all those in the state government trying to figure out how to make ends meet. How many tens of thousands of jobs will be created with swift approval for these tax-generating venues? How many construction jobs, service jobs, how many et ceteras do I add to this point? Why aren’t these people being told to act now to give this economy the shot in the arm that bureaucracy is preventing? Oh, by the way, the law says that review must take place within 30 days. At one point, the SLA saw itself as a major tax-generating agency, there to make sure that the very bad guys didn’t get into the booze-ness. The over-regulation of the hospitality business is a tremendous cost to this city’s economy and will eventually be costly to the tourist industry as well. All over town clubs are on the brink, many of which still suffer under recently imposed or enforced rules that make doing business nearly impossible. In time, tourist dollars will chose other cities like Miami, Las Vegas, or Atlantic City, where running a joint doesn’t require teams of lawyers just to break even.

Still, more good news comes from the SLA front: Hudson Terrace, which has been fighting the good fight in its attempt to obtain a liquor license, was finally approved. After 18 months of doing all the right things, this amazing space — -for the record designed by my partner Marc Dizon — got passed. A source tells me that approximately $600,000 in tax revenues were not generated during this period, in addition to cab fares, wages, and taxes from employees — hey, I’ll just refer back to those previous etc’s. I couldn’t each anyone over at the Hudson Terrace, but a legal beagle pal of mine pointed out that the 500-foot rule often used to prevent clubs from obtaining licensing has a couple of large loopholes in it.

My boy with the diploma on the wall from that good law school says that under section 64 A, B, C, and D (and ill throw in an E for etc.), there are actually a number of different types of liquor licenses. The rule seems to say that you can’t have more than three “like” licenses within a 500-foot radius; but this recent interpretation, if I was listening correctly while walking with him and chewing gum at the same time, means that a fourth license of a different type is OK. So you can have 3 A’s and throw in a B, C, and maybe even a D, and it would be all within right. Or, you take three B’s, add D, and well … etc.!

I’m told that in mid-February, a new-look SLA will be tasked with the difficult job of regulating an industry which exists in upstate New York, Long Island, and New York City as well. Sometimes what works for those Long Island gooses doesn’t make sense to us New York City ganders, so it’s not an easy job. The current dialogue comes at a time when the needs of the industry coincide with the needs of the state. The hospitality business can generate lots of loot for an Albany that’s trying to figure out how to keep schools, highways, government programs … etc. paid for.

Industry Insiders: Jamie Mulholland, Big Game Hunter

Cain Luxe’s Jaime Mulholland on sailing to New York’s promised land, surviving the W. 27th Street club disaster, partnering with the Brazilian female mafia, and almost going broke before hitting the big time with his expanding nightlife empire.

What places are you involved with? The first summer [after opening Cain in New York] we took over Cabana in the Hamptons. It had been a dead space for a while. We redid the whole space to make it look more like Cain, the South Africa beach club. We also took all our staff. It wasn’t just hanging a sign. It was taking what was authentic to Cain and putting it there. It was incredible. It was packed, lines around the corner. Luckily it was very successful. The following year we didn’t know if we wanted to do it and David Sarner owned the space and brought in Pink Elephant. We went to Jet – another successful year. The third year we were opening in the Bahamas on Paradise Island. Three pools, a restaurant, DJs, all outdoors, very celebrity driven, high-end clients. In a new tower they opened, The Cove, that’s $800 to $8000 a night, beautifully designed. It’s a great extension of our brand. We opened GoldBar the same time we opened in the Bahamas. It was insane. It’s half the size of Cain. We kept it under the radar, away from Page Six. It has a great following. Lenny [Kravitz] wrote a song with GoldBar in it on his new album. Great clientele. It will have long legs. It has a tight door and the quality is good. I am proud of it. We have four venues in four years and are now regrouping. We bought a hotel in Montauk and redid it. It’s called the Surf Lodge, very chill.

Known associates: Jayma [Cardoso] was a cocktail waitress at Lotus when I was a bartender. I remember watching her and there was something very special about her. For her it is very much like people in her living room. She wants to take care of people. You watch her put a room together and it’s brilliant. She was born for this business. She is exceptional at it. I remember getting my team together and thinking that a big part rests on getting Jayma as my partner. She came in when I first got the space and there was water dripping from the roof. I had been talking to her for a long time and I told her this was it. I remember walking her through the room with her Brazilian mafia, like five girls all speaking Portuguese. I didn’t know what the fuck they were saying. She came back and said she would do it and said this is what I would need financially and I said fine. She came in the next day – his woman is so bloody driven – with a pad of paper covered in notes. She said we are going to do this but this is how we are going to do it. This company has done well cause I have surrounded myself with the best in this business. Everyone says you have done so great. It’s not just me, it’s the whole team. As long as they were positive and didn’t run on ego. It was the idea of warmth. We look after our clients. You have to hard at the door but once they are past that door it’s a different world. They should feel like they own the venue. There is warmth from every staff member. It comes from the top. If Jayma and I walked around with massive egos making people feel they are lucky to be in here, it just doesn’t make sense.

Point of Origin: I worked at a club in South Africa called Legends. Then I said I got to go to the States.You prove yourself in the States. I didn’t just want to be a big fish in a little pond. I wanted to prove to myself I could do it and do it well. I knew that the best were here in the States, especially in New York. I couldn’t come here directly cause they wouldn’t give a young South African papers at that time. So I sailed on a boat to St. Martin in the Caribbean. I lived there for 2 years and ran a bar there. One day this guy said I need an extra crew member to sail to Connecticut. I didn’t know where it was but I knew it was in the States. I handed over the keys to the bar and said I’m gone. I only knew one person, Anthony Bourdain. So when I arrived I called him. He was writing his book. He hadn’t done anything at that time. He has done great things since. He helped me out a lot.

Then I worked at Supper Club and some bar in Jersey until finally a friend of mine invested in Lotus. I had been trying and trying. It was one of my best friends who invested in Lotus. So I met with David Rabin and he gave me my first shot. I have such fond memories of that place. It was a Goliath. To have started in New York in that place…it was such a college for so many people who went on to do other things. I remember standing at the bar and seeing the caliber of people coming in, the energy and the vibe…it was just perfect. This incredible place. I was their crappiest bartender. All the other bartenders were so good. So one of the girls there, Christy Dugan, who now works for me, used to bartend there. She used to see that I was terrible. She would put me behind her and say just watch. She would take half my section so that no one would see that I was weak. She is amazing. I got better and better and then left Lotus. I went to two other venues, not the caliber of Lotus, then to PM, and found the space I wanted. It was just right. I said, “Fuck it I am going to do it.” While I was working at other clubs I tried to learn about business plans. I would work until 4 a.m. then be up at 10 a.m.working on my business plan. It took me like three years to put my business plan together. The only place on this block at the time was Bungalow 8. It was perfect. Friends of mine in the business thought I was crazy. They said it wasn’t going to work. I said, “Fuck it, it will work.” I maxed all my credit cards and used mine and my wife’s savings. It was so bad that the night we opened I didn’t have the $500 for each of the bartenders’ registers. I remember breaking down and thinking I can’t do this. How did it get to this? My wife had received a modeling check, only you can’t cash a check on an empty account so she begged the bank manager. I remember her coming out with tears on her face and saying we got the money. That night was a blur to me. I don’t remember much of it but I remember being exhausted at the end of the night and looking at the bar and there were just piles and piles of money. Then we knew it was going to work.

Any nights that stand out? There have been so many nights that have been special. I think my first birthday that my wife and Jayma threw me at Cain stands out. It was the first year and we were doing amazing and Bob Sinclair was spinning and his album had just come out. Just before the summer and my wife had secretly flown my brother here. It was amazing. Everything just seemed right. It’s an important part of New York.

Tell me about running a club in this city: This business is hard. It’s ever-changing, the competition is fierce. There are strong people you have to go up against. The city doesn’t want you either. We generate so much revenue for the city and they are trying to make 2 a.m. licenses. It’s ridiculous. It’s a crime. Running a clean operation and one that’s truly concerned about its clients is hard. You follow all the rules that are there from the city, you are having a great night and because of what’s going on, on this street, we have task forces walking in and killing the vibe. It kills everything you are working so hard for. I remember Amy [Sacco] and I standing on the street one night, Jon B had just opened his venues, and the police were out in full force and Amy and I were just freaking out. We said to Jon B that we can’t even get our clients to our venues because of the clientele you have brought to this street. It was a turning point for 27th street. That was the toughest thing, having other operators bringing in elements we didn’t need here. It sort of destroyed what we were working for. Look at Amy. She is incredible at what she does. She is a pioneer and opens on what was considered the outskirts of town and she has this happen. This must be the most frustrating for her. Cause it’s nothing she has done that’s affecting her, it’s other operators. She has done everything right. If it had been Cain, Pink Elephant and Bungalow 8 it would be been a different story. All the foot traffic has gone to the meatpacking district. I will always have a place in New York. If I left New York it would be over. I could have sold Cain for a lot of money a long time ago. But I stuck to my guns. I believe in this brand and what we do. For Jayma and I it’s not about putting a lot of money in our pocket and walking away. It’s a vision of a company, a long term vision. We are passionate about what we do. The passion is here in New York. New York is the best city in the entire world. This is where it all happens. We produce the best stuff. None of the clubs in London can hold a candle to New York. New York is where you prove yourself and the best product is delivered. Our loyalty is to New York.

Projections: We try to challenge ourselves at every venue we do. Next we are opening in Dubai and I’ll be moving out there and bringing some of our best people. Clubs are great but they are not the end goal. They are a great starting block.

Good Night Mr. Lewis: Vote Against Daniel Squadron

imageA business meeting took me to Philadelphia yesterday. Although the election outcome in New York is a foregone conclusion, many believe Pennsylvania may be close. I saw Barack Obama volunteers everywhere — even a cute little old lady with a table giving out buttons. One of the great things about Philadelphia are the murals on the sides of buildings. Here too was Obama staring righteously at us as we navigated the streets of the city of brotherly love. I showed my partner Marc Dizon an orange sticker 3 feet wide and 18 inches tall in the window of a building erected just after the signing of the Constitution of the good old USA. This sticker is a notification to the neighborhood that someone plans to open up a drinking establishment. People have 30 days to raise objections, or as I understand it, the license is issued without much ado. My Philly meeting told me that if someone objects, they go before a mediator and objections are heard, the future establishment explains how they will deal with the issue, and most of the time that’s that. Philly is like the fifth or sixth biggest market in America. They have thousands of bars, restaurants, clubs with diverse crowds, and as many big-city problems as we do in New York, and this is how they deal with the process of obtaining a liquor license.

Shoot, they even won the World Series. It’s a legit place. They close most of their joints at 2 a.m., although some places get to stay open till 3. There isn’t much of a tourist base except for families visiting the Liberty Bell or Ben Franklin’s house, and it’s pretty established for a working-class town.

New York is the city that never sleeps; Frank Sinatra said so, and he knew about these sorts of things. Community boards are rapidly turning this town into a bedroom community, and the loss of tax dollars, and eventually tourism, will be crippling. I’m not talking about the Empire State Building tourists, but the fast set who stay in expensive hotels and eat the good food. These peeps are spending beaucoup bucks, and if they can’t have fun here, Vegas and Miami and other such places will gladly take them. Nowadays the shopping is making its way to these towns, and we no longer have a monopoly on stylish places. Almost every joint that hits it big here has an outpost there. Everybody is looking for brands to import.

So why am I telling you this on Election Day? Well, I know you’re gonna vote for Obama-Wan Kenobi, as he is our only hope. And those voting might just continue down the Democratic ticket to drive those evildoer Republicans out of office. But there’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing in the 25th Congressional District, which covers a lot of downtown and parts of Brooklyn. Daniel Squadron, an extremely anti-club, anti-licensing, bad, bad man, is running for State Senate. It is, according to David Rabin of the New York Nightlife Association, urgent that this candidate be defeated.

He favors even more power be given to community boards, which are destroying not only the hospitality business, but in turn all the other businesses supported by people who go out at night. That’s cabs, delis, restaurants, etc. Daniel Squadron must not be elected. Spread the word, and when it’s clear that Obama is victorious, take a minute to pray for him. He will need our prayers and patience. Then go out to your favorite joint and party like it’s 2006.