Riviera Sundays at Lavo, the Ban on Big Sodas, Sylvia Wood’s Passing

There will be no napkins safe this weekend as the serviette-tossing Rocco Ancarola returns to Lavo, July 29, for Riviera Sundays starting at 9:30pm. It is a joyous occasion. The event, called a "Celebration of Life," is a reference to Rocco’s long recovery from a heart attack that almost ended his life. In a Facebook post, he offered, "Thank you to all my friends for all your Love. You all helped me to recover very well and I THANK YOU ALL !!!!” Rocco is one of the great gentlemen in this business and we can’t wait to see him.

While at BINGO at Hotel Chantelle Monday, tablemate Michael Cavadias informed us that he was going to miss a week, something we never do, because he was heading to London. "For the Olympics," someone exclaimed, and I imagined him in a leotard, pole vaulting or weight lifting. Actually, he and our dear friend and inspiration Kembra Pfahler (Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black) are performing at Antony’s (of Antony and the Johnsons) Meltdown Festival. Other performers include Lou Reed, Hercules and Love Affair, Joey Arias, Marc Almond, Laurie Anderson, and Diamonda Galas. The festival runs from August 1st to the12th, basically at the same time Olympians (sans the banned Greek racist track star) are running for the gold.

So I was so-so when Mayor Bloomberg led the charge in banning cigarette smoking in places where I eat and drink and dance and play and walk in. The downside at the time was the encroachment by government into our rights…or freedom of choice. The arguments about second-hand smoke hurting those around those evil smokers won the day and, in retrospect, the trade-off was OK.

Now comes a proposed ban on large containers of sodas that contain dreaded sugar at any place regulated by the Board of Health. It’s easy to spot those: they have a letter grade in their front window. I am a strictly-diet-soda guy, but this ban reeks of Big Brother. If they can ban sugar in soda, then they can ban butter on popcorn or lollipops or cracker jacks or hot dogs or liverwurst. The foods we eat are often only acceptable in moderation. I didn’t trust the cigarette ban because it seemed like a step 1. Now that step 2 is on the brink of enactment, I fear for step 3. Is step 100 a requirement for sensible shoes? A ban on ankle-breaking Louboutins? If a person wants to buy fattening soda, educate them, don’t regulate them.

Will drink maximums be considered by our Mayor? This won’t end until Bloomberg is put out to his billionaire pasture. He is so out of touch with the life of the regular guy that he thinks this might actually stop someone from consuming massive amounts of whatever. If they can’t buy a 32-ounce bottle, they’ll buy two 16-ouncers. Will New Yorkers eventually be fined for not wearing sunglasses on a sunny day?

We have to mention the passing of Sylvia Woods at 86, the legendary proprietor of Sylvia’s, Harlem’s soul food mecca. She was buried this morning. Reverend Al Sharpton performed the eulogy. I never met Sylvia, but was touched by her. When I was designing the Cherry Lounge for Timbaland and DJ Clue in Harlem, me and mine would stroll over to Sylvia’s for lunch and comfort. The walk over and the meal and the company at her restaurant washed away a myriad of stupid misconceptions we had about Harlem. She was a true ambassador for the neighborhood. It was wonderful. She will be missed.

Will The Ban On Over-16 oz. Sugary Drinks Mean The End of Bottle Service?

The mayor—in his zeal to leave office with us all healthy and fit and doing good things for the environment—has pushed through new regulations that will ensure all that. The ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces may have severe and adverse affects on bottle service. All details here.

A strict interpretation of the rule by the NYC Department of Health will basically ban the common carafe from being used. That means the bottle of Goose or rum will not be accompanied by non-diet soda unless in small containers, and only one small container per person at a table is allowed. Heaven help a joint if patrons leave a table for a wiz and there are seven small containers and only four people present during an inspection.

Juices, unless they are 100 percent fruit juices, are also limited. No one serves 100 percent fruit juice. Fines will happen, and places will spend money to adjust. Having lots of small bottles or teensy carafes is a problem because, first of all, they are expensive, and secondly, tables have limited room. Tonic water, 7UP, and Coke or Pepsi are now villains in the eyes of this zealous administration. I personally only use diet but I am in the minority. Management-level personnel that I have talked to say this wasn’t thought out, and they intend to beseech the city for an exception.

A "sky is falling" attitude will be seen by city officials as a "boy who cried wolf" situation, as clubland predicted its own demise with the smoking ban. Somehow we all survived and our hair is cleaner and probably our lungs as well. This may be different since the city cannot expect a complete retooling of the industry’s breadwinner – bottle service – on such short notice.

I believe a carafe is never intended as something someone drinks directly from, so that does not fall into that 16-ounce serving size ban. Fines will be issued and someone will rule on this, but I must say that under this administration it has been very difficult for the average businessman to survive. Shouldn’t places that have invested in certain sized tables and soda gun situations, and have contracts or relationships with soda and juice vendors be grandfathered in? I can see forcing places to have more healthy choices, like fresh juice and more diet beverages, but to change the game like this seems very rude and lacks an understanding of the realities of the biz.

Given another four or 10 years in office, Mayor Mike would surely try to control who and how we sleep with people, ban bacon and maybe eggs, demand comfortable shoes instead of those harmful high heels, and prevent us from watching those ulcer-inducing Mets. All the good that he is done is diminished by his condescending dictator-elect attitude. People who want lots of sugary soda will buy multiple bottles which may or may not be recycled. Where does it fucking end?

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Six Iconic Moments In Soda Marketing

New Yorkers are up in arms this week thanks to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s new plan to ban extra large sizes of full-calorie soft drinks from being served at restaurants, movie theaters, and other fat factories. Some people are for the ban while others think it’s facist, but what we’re busy thinking about is how soda, no matter how sugary, has contributed to culture.

Over the years, soda brands have made a point to hire celebrities to pimp their brands, but there’s been a special relationship between musicians and the carbonated community that’s churned out some iconic images. Of course they’re advertisements and are therefore designed to be catchy and attractive, but over the years soda brands—or at least Coke and Pepsi—have used their massive, corn syrup-soaked wallets to bring us unforgettable moments.

Check out some of our favorites below.

There was Michael Jackson for Pepsi:

And George Michael for Diet Coke:

Robert Palmer and his ladypals found Pepsi, well, simply irresistible:

 

Whitney Houston for Diet Coke:

 

Beyoncé, Britney Spears, and Enrique Iglesias for Pepsi:

 

And, of course, Coke’s famous sing-along: