Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Pulling the Plug XI
Two concerning instances of music-related closing or threatened closing. Word is that Deb Klein's wonderful independent record store in Jamaica Plain, Hi-Fi Records is going to close. Her landlord practically doubled her rent, and CD's just aren't selling that well these days. Our guess is that the landlord wants to get a dentist's office or similar renter in that space. It's far enough off the main drag not to be ideal retail space, and it's sad, sad to think of the store not being there. Where else would I have gone when I tripped and gashed my hands? Where else can you go see a band play live on a weekend afternoon? Hi-Fi will be much missed. I'm hopeful that Deb organizes a marathon series of live shows as a last hurrah. I know I didn't shop there enough.

Also, Congress is considering two pieces of legislation that could spell the end of live music. According to the Drug Policy Action Center, the RAVE Act (H.R. 718) and the CLEAN-UP Act (H.R. 834) would make it a federal crime to promote live dance, music, and entertainment events at which drugs may be sold or used -- regardless of whether the organizer is aware or involved -- and make it easier for the feds punish property owners for drug offenses that their customers commit -- again regardless of whether the owner takes steps to control such crime.

This is bad, bad news. Basically, anyone owning property on which or organizing an event at which, someone sells or uses drugs -- again, regardless of their involvement -- will become liable for that activity if this legislation goes through. That could spell the end of live music, because no matter how alert and aware organizers or owners might be, someone could always do something stupid on their own accord. This legislation takes drug control out of the hands of law enforcement and the government and put it in the hands of citizens. Seems like a losing proposition to me, and an egregious irresponsibility.

Take a second and send a letter to your local representative expressing concern. DPAC makes it easy. Also, if you're in the Boston area, take some time this weekend and go to Hi-Fi. Their local section is always well stocked, the staff is amazing, and they could use our support in these late days. RIP, Hi-Fi. Sad to see you go.

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