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Your Loose Lips item detailing the cancellation of a Ward One community meeting scheduled at Madam’s Organ with Councilmember Harold Brazil (9/24) contained glaring inaccuracies and omissions that force me to respond to that item particularly and the new Loose Lips in general.
Loose Lips under the guidance of Ken Cummings was the most-often witty public voice of an often frustrated District citizenry. He may have offended, but he checked his sources and facts and kept the Loose Lips mission clear. Erik Wemple, the new Loose Lips, by contrast, has sullied the reputation of the column by turning it into his own bully pulpit (e.g., his recent tirade against the Diversite nightclub and his rallying cries for its closure). The witty Loose Lips of old now rings of the self-absorbed whining of a witless wimp (er, Wemp). Perhaps the Washington City Paper might want to rethink the coronation of Wemple as Loose Lips-for-Life .
In reference to the Brazil item: Wemple did call Madam’s Organ to ask about the cancellation, but he already indicated that the story would be about the fumbling councilmember’s being forced to change meeting locales due to public pressure and his journalistic hounding. He told me that his “source” had told him about issues of noncompliance and Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) violations, specifically that Madam’s had no certificate of occupancy for our third floor and had had numerous ABC complaints about noise. I invited him over to inspect our certificate and informed him that Madam’s had not generated an ABC complaint or violation in the more than two years since moving into our new building. After much prodding, he informed me that his “source” was Peter Schott.
I immediately called Schott. We had a heated (and I hope honest) discussion. After he admitted that he had never been in Madam’s Organ, I encouraged him to visit and inspect the certificate and the operation in general.
He came in that same evening. I wasn’t there for his visit but later was gratified to read a note left by him acknowledging that it might have been better for him to have checked things out personally before repeating an unsubstantiated rumor. I appreciate the gesture and respect his willingness to look past his initial position. Since we are both somewhat active on local issues, I look forward to more dialogue in the future (even though we find ourselves on opposite sides of most issues).
The damage, however, had been done. Loose Lips ran his story two days later, causing embarrassment to both Brazil and Madam’s Organ. He didn’t check with the ABC or with the posted certificate on our front wall. Why? Perhaps because he is miffed that Councilmember Brazil has not jumped on the Wemple Wagon to close down Diversite.
If Loose Lips is not going to check the veracity or knowledge of sources like Peter Schott, he might more productively spend his time playing with his Peter rather than calling him….As for LL’s cute reference to the “banjo” vote available at Madam’s, he should come in and listen sometime. In addition to the banjos (and guitars, fiddles, and mandolins) heard on Wednesday Bluegrass Nights, we also offer jazz, blues, R&B, and Latin music. Take off the headphones, LL: There is life after Donna Summer.
Additionally, the reference about a controversy surrounding the Madam’s Organ mural seems a bit dated. The Madam has proven to be a very popular neighborhood icon and a daily reminder to those who see her that we should smile and not take ourselves or life so seriously. The “controversy” proved to be nothing more than a Tempest in a C Cup. City Paper should remember the old adage “Loose Lips Stink Shits”—or something like that.
Remember, be nice.