Friday, April 29, 2011

What if loosing the Eagle was an inside job!

So this is just a made up story or is it?

You own two bars in SOMA and you are a heavy drinker and poor business person. One bar called the Hole in the Wall is your baby and it just cost you a great deal of money to relocate it in the SOMA neighborhood. You want this bar to continue and can't afford the second bar called the Eagle. You decide to sell the Eagle but during that time there is rampant problems created by this owner like inventory problems, rent not being paid for months and you decide it would be better to sell to a straight owner to cut down on competition for your bar the Hole in the Wall. In fact you have willingly made a deal to sell to the owners of the Skylark bar.

Well what would happen then if some drag queen and a young faerie hold a "Save the Eagle" rally and garner national attention around the closing of this institution and due to public pressure ruin the sale before it goes through?

Well one you would stand in front of these people and say there is no hope of saving the Eagle. You would say in the media there is no five year lease. You probably would not mention that there have been problems in your paying rent and thats why the owner of the land wants you out. You probably would not say that you received an eviction notice or two along the way and ignored them so that when the notice to appear in court around said eviction it comes as a shock to the people who are trying to save the Eagle. You would probably yell at your manager that this is his fault. Finally you would hold the liquor license hostage from potential buyers like say the owner of the Dallas Eagle; who has a great reputation as a community and AIDS activist. You might also go into the Eagle and start removing art work and memorabilia and stop liquor deliveries. Yep if your names were John and Joe and you currently just want out at any cost you would do this.... and to your own community.

While talking to a lawyer for the property owner all this might come out and become knowledge for the community. This lawyer would tell you things like, "Of corse we want a 30 year business to stay in the property that is just good business sense." Or "If it were not for all the problems with the current lease holder the entire process would have been easier," Or even "Keep it the Eagle but we can't get you the liquor license because John and Joe own that and they don't want to sell it."

It sounds like fiction but actually it's just about as true as can be. Hoodwinked by members of our own community.

Thanks a lot John and Joe. That was real nice to find out yesterday as you dismantled a place so many called home. Hope the Hole in the Wall serves you well but I will say that I will never step foot into one of your establishments again. I am very saddened to find all this out and would never ever give you another cent of queer monies after what you have put us through this last month. Utterly disturbing!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Save the Eagle Tavern- Truth be told

Ok so, I never said that there was a 5 year lease. I was told and had discussions with many about a five year lease being held by Joe and John the Eagle bar owners. I am not a lawyer or a real estate person so I am just finding ways to help with the Eagles non-closure. This was a conversation that was presented to me as a way to save or bargain to save the Eagle Tavern. So I would like to say that I never said... "They have a five year lease and they are 1 year into it." I was told that and asked if it were true and would that have bearing on this situation? However from the discussions I have had with people throughout the community this may still be true as well but Joe from the Eagle says it is not so there you have all I know. John and Joe Eagle owners and Joe the land owner were incommunicado and they were anti this action because they would rather this all just went away.

The bar owners wanted to sell. People wanted to buy the Eagle and during the sale Joe in Santa Rosa inherited the land in a trust. Negotiations broke down and a new buyer was found. The Skylark due to public pressure backed out. Negotiations broke down and an eviction hearing notice was issued. In the mean while several Supervisors (Kim, Wiener, Compos) former Supervisor Dufty and Senator Leno were interested in helping us save this historic queer space; that has raised over 3 million for charities in its 30 years and was a first responder to the AIDS epidemic of the 80's and 90's.

However yesterday in Scott Wiener's office I was told that the Eagle owners, Joe P the land owner, and the owner of the Dallas Eagle are in talks as of yesterday.

Also in case you hear that our protests with Skylark were violent and heated offering threatening language that is categorically false. They were very peaceful and more out reach than violent protests. Any language used that was threatening on the internet is not my personal responsibility and certainly not the way I would have acted. It's easy to mouth off anonymously on the internet. What we did was called direct action around a situation that gathered almost 300 on a monday night at the Eagle Tavern. We created a coalition or community around the destruction of what many consider sacred Queer ground. We did not react in violent or threatening manners and those who used the internet to bully have only themselves to answer to and those they hurt with their childish behavior. The Skylark surely got some hate mail and that in no way was what Save the Eagle was about. It was about drawing a line in the sand around the loss of Queer space and the easy destruction of Queer culture as irrelevant.

People fight for things all the time. I stand by our actions and am proud of the work we did as a community. Even though sand is not the most permanent place to draw a line it feels good as a city, nation and international community to have come together around something that we as a culture hold dear. Argentina, Amsterdam, Canada, Mexico, France, England and all across the US from Seattle and Portland to NY and Massachusetts we have heard from people hoping this institution would continue.

Maybe to some its just a bar or even a place that they dislike, but for many around the world its a destination and for those of us in SF a home where everyone is invited to the table.

Long live the Eagle and the spirit that it instills.