Alibi V.17 No.33 • Aug 14-20, 2008 

Odds & Ends

Eric J. Garcia

DATELINE: Saudi Arabia—It is now illegal to buy a dog or cat in Riyadh pet shops or even have them out in public. The Muttawa (or Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice in Riyadh) declared domesticated animals are being used by men to “make passes at women and disturb families.” Implementation of the new law went into effect last week. The decision was made by Riyadh acting Gov. Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz, who based his ruling on a previous edict from officially approved Saudi Arabian scholars, according to the newspaper al-Hayat. The Muttawa is a force of about 5,000 that enforces the laws and teachings of the extreme Sunni Muslim belief, Wahabism.

DATELINE: New Jersey—Some 1,000 boycotters won a public apology after protesting St. Helier’s Havana nightclub and its owner. More than 20 women said they were discriminated against in attempting to gain entrance to the club because of their weight. They created a Facebook page, and their Internet-based campaign got support from as far away as Australia. Police were dispatched to the club on Saturday, July 26, to prevent public disorder. Georgina Mason, 23, was quoted in the Jersey Evening Post as explaining that bouncers would not admit her group of about five or six friends because they were “too big." "When the manager came out he would not look at me directly but said they had received many complaints about fat people and he told me, ‘Go and lose some weight before you can come in—fat people are bad for business.’ ” Added witness Jemma Warner: “The man himself was far, far away from what we might call male perfection, making the situation somewhat ironic.” Havana owner Martin Sayers stated, “There was an error of judgment, and I would like to apologize wholeheartedly to these people and say they are welcome back to the club.” He added that he is currently on a diet himself.

DATELINE: Maryland—The lucky number for those playing Maryland’s state lottery last week was 666, much to the chagrin of the Maryland State Lottery Agency. The group described the number as “thought by many to be unlucky.” No comment was made on this specific combination in the Pick 3 draw, but state lottery director Buddy Roogow said that “When triples are drawn, we almost always pay out more than we brought in, which makes them very popular with our Pick 3 players.” The state of Maryland had to pay more than $1.6 million to “thousands of Maryland Lottery players” on just $458,953 in ticket sales.

DATELINE: Georgia—After attempting to close a 24-hour “gentlemen’s club” through legal means for seven years, the town of Lavonia bought the place for nearly $1 million. The city council voted unanimously to approve the move. City manager Gary Fesperman received a standing ovation from townspeople upon announcing the decision, and the Café Risque club was shut down immediately after purchase. The building was razed the day after transferring the funds, and signs advertising the establishment—emblazoned with slogans such as “Where they dare to be bare”—were burned in an on-site bonfire. Café Risque owner Jerry Sullivan, who managed for years to protect his club’s existence with a free-expression defense, died in 2006. Though most Lavonians were happy with the decision, some criticism was levied that the town should have paid off its water treatment plant instead, the original plan for the club’s $997,000 purchase price.

DATELINE: Iowa—Because the prosecution could not prove that a Des Moines strip club wasn’t a theater, nude dancing will legally remain an art form in the state of Iowa. Local newspaper the Waverly News reported that the decision on the Shotgun Geniez club was handed down by Fremont Country Judge Timothy O’Grady despite his opinion that he found the case “a little scary.” County Attorney Margaret Johnson brought charges of indecent exposure based on the case of an unnamed 17-year-old who had stripped at the club. Thanks to the Friday ruling, Shotgun Geniez owner Clarence Judy was able to sell the club the following Monday to Terry Rutledge, who said “In all actuality, you don’t have to be a theater hall, concert hall or anything. You can be a strip club that has nude dance.”

Compiled by Os Davis.