Re “Taking a Powder” (6/29): Although I thought Pat Tracey’s story of drugs, spies, wiretaps, and weirdos made for a fascinating read, I thought a few corrections for the record might be helpful.
First, for the doubtful, the whole story was/is, for the most part, true. We at Madam’s Organ lived through the insanity, and, although we didn’t deserve it, we caught a lot of the shit peripheral to Tracey’s lifestyle. His life is like his dancing: self-deprecating, endearing, but out-of-control and dangerous. I love him like a brother but am constantly, perhaps like an older brother, cautioning, reprimanding, and cajoling him to fly just a little bit straighter. In his relatively short time working at Madam’s, he set a still-standing record for being firedand re-hired. (As I said, I love him like a brother.)
However, I do have a couple of problems with his story. The first is an omission: Pat was well aware of and spoke to me extensively during the writing of his article about my campaign at Madam’s Organ to rid the place of drug dealers. In 1999, I was told by someone with the 3rd District police that there were a number of drug dealers frequenting Madam’s. I was given some names. I immediately held a staff meeting. Some on the staff confirmed those names and gave me others. In particular, a “big-time” dealer named “Paulina.” They also cautioned me that she should be considered very dangerous and that, according to talk on the street, she was under the protection of the police. I immediately called Colete Fontenot, the drug-dealing friend of Tracey’s, and set up a meeting with Colete and Paulina. At a lunch at Mo Bay Cafe#, a few doors down from Madam’s Organ, I told both of those women to never come near Madam’s again and to pass the word to the rest of the people on my list. In fact, my exact advice was that they go out, buy themselves a great pair of Adidas, and start running. Since that date in 1999, all of the people on the list have been banned from Madam’s Organ, and, according to the story, most are now in jail. I immediately started getting death threats at work, on my cell phone, and even at our beach house. I took them seriously and contacted my friend and attorney, Geoff Gittner, who hooked me up with his now-partner, the Chandra Levy-case-famous Billy Martin. (Unfortunately, I have never had sex with an intern, and the most I can get out of an airline stewardess is an extra bag of peanuts.) Martin soon got back to me that this woman had been approached by the powers that be and that I had heard the last of the threats and would not have to worry about this woman or her cohorts anymoreknock on wood! He was right.
Second, Tracey’s depiction of the life of a bartender as one soaked in alcohol and drug abuse is, thank god, not even close to the truth, and it does a great disservice to all of the good, nonabusing, hardworking people who make their livings on the other side of the bar. At Madam’s, our staff includes elementary school teachers, a defense attorney, a criminal pathologist, nonprofit staffers, students, writers, and photographerseven a practicing Orthodox Jew. They are dedicated, hardworking, and, for the most part, neither drug- nor alcohol-addicted. (Unfortunately, there are no interns or airline stewardesses, but we are accepting applications.)
Finally, Tracey’s description of his attorney, the late David Niblack, was extremely lacking. I introduced Tracey to Niblack because I knew that Niblack would fight for him and protect him much better than anyone else I could have recommended, irrespective of how much he could pay. Niblack was a universally respected member of the criminal bar who also happened to be one insanely funny, irreverent sonofabitch. If only he had taken care of himself as well as he did his clients, we, his wide circle of friends, would not be missing him today.
All in all, it was a great story, and we at Madam’s Organ have changed some of our policies out of some of the issues it raised. Now, every night, terrorists can get two for one drinks before midnight.