Trouble With a Capital T, and That Rhymes With P, and That Stands for Pinball


Fred Bobrow's Retro Arcade Museum in Beacon, New York, featured his collection of 150 vintage arcade games, 50 of which were available for play at any given time for $10 an hour. New York Times columnist Peter Applebome reports that the place "drew private birthday and anniversary parties, random fans, and classes from New York University, Vassar, Marist and other colleges….Local inns and bed-and-breakfasts recommended it to customers. People came from around the country, Europe, Japan. He got rave reviews from customers, and growing online buzz." All of which was more than the city could tolerate. In June it shut down what I assume was Beacon's best-known tourist attraction, citing a municipal ban on amusement arcades. "It's unfortunate," the city's zoning administrator said, "but ignorance of the law is no excuse."

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    1. "Later, dudes. S you in your A's, don't wear a C, and J all over your B's."

      1. No clue what you're talking about. The title is from the The Music Man's "Ya Got Trouble."

        1. I'd hate to be the first guy to make a Shipoopi reference.

        2. There will be new Always Sunny this week, and some of you still aren't watching. You disgust me. Ska, you most of all.

          1. Does the library carry the past episodes? If so I could get Marian the librarian to help me find them.

            1. Since you appear to enjoy the legitimate theatre, you should know that It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has a musical too.

          2. Just picked up Season 5 on dvd yesterday. At last I have Gail the Snail at my beck and call!

            1. You're practically asking to get salted.

              1. Who throws salt on a person? She forces you to do it.

          3. OK, Epi. You keep banging dudes.

            1. Cannibalism? Racism, Warty? Dude, that's not for us...those decisions are better left to the suits in Washington. We're just here to eat some dude.

              1. I don't judge, you guys. It's cool. I like yogurt up my ass and a Popsicle stick in my mouth.

                1. You modern dancers slay me with your wild new ideas.

  1. So, what other business with a similar customer base made a sizable donation to several councilmen complained?

    1. If this was drawing people from so far away, I think even a direct competitor would want it to stay open, simply for the walkby business it would draw.

      Since I had never heard of Beacon, New York before reading this item, it would seem that this is the sort of tourist draw that a city would dream of having.

  2. He should have started bribing officials when the business started getting too prolific.

    1. At least with the mafia you get a chance to stay open.

  3. Fuck. Why would you let me know this place exists only to tell me I can't go there?

    At least there is still Barcade.

  4. And people wonder why Tea Party ideas are resonating with people?

  5. The ignorance of a law is never an excuse for what?

    1. It's never an excuse for breaking or being in violation of it.

      1. Technically, it's never an excuse for anything.

        "Yes, honey, it's true that you walked in on me going down on your sister, but in my defense, I had no idea that the town of Beacon, New York until recently had an ordinance banning arcades."

        "You jerk! Ignorance of the law is no excuse!"

      2. Three felonies a day.

      3. What is an excuse for being such an officious prick that you enforce a clearly outdated law against a thriving business that clearly is not the type of establishment the law originally targeted in the first place?

      4. I disagree. I don't have to obey ignorant laws.

      5. "The ignorance of a law is never an excuse for what?"

        If the president does it it's not ignorance.

  6. Christ , why the hell is an amusement arcade illegal in the first place?

    And notice the official's arrogance , 'ignorance is no excuse' as if all laws are sacrosanct, no matter how inane.

    1. Fifty years ago or so, pinball arcades were considered "sinful", sort of like bars or casinos. They were banned in a lot of places. I'll bet this ordinance was a very old one dating from that time period. The fact that the city council eventually overturned the law (too late, of course) leads credence to this theory.

      1. Which is why the nannies are never satisfied. In all places at all times, there are bluenoses who can't stand the thought of others just enjoying themselves.

    2. Conversely, arrogance is no excuse for ignorant laws.

    3. ""Christ , why the hell is an amusement arcade illegal in the first place?""

      They attracted the wrong crowd and patrons created problems. Trouble makers under 21, and truancy issues.

      1. So, basically, no legitimate reason.

      2. The Gameworks Restaurant (a cheesy restaurant and arcade) located in downtown Minneapolis drew a great deal of ire by the Suits and police because it was drawing teenagers to the place.

        1. The whole block E drew ire by the suits & police because it attracts non-suit blacks to the place.

  7. drew private birthday and anniversary parties, random fans, and classes from New York University, Vassar, Marist and other colleges....Local inns and bed-and-breakfasts recommended it to customers. People came from around the country, Europe, Japan.

    The Beacon gendarmerie had jolly well better go after all these accessories.

  8. seems like there should be a workaround that involves the deaf, dumb, and blind kids and the ADA.

  9. [Timothy Dexter, the building inspector and zoning administrator] said Mr. Bobrow erred in not inquiring about the legality of the business before he opened it.

    Fuck you Timmy and the whole attitude that us peons have to grovel before our Government masters before we're allowed to do anything on our own property.

    1. Also, who the fuck would suspect an arcade would be illegal in the first damn place?

      1. Also, who the fuck would suspect a plant would be illegal in the first damn place?

    2. Yeah, I know the very first thing I think of when I'm thinking about opening a new business it that I should go ask my overlords at the zoning office whether my new business is "legal". If it doesn't involve prostitution or selling guns, drugs, alcohol or tobacco, all of which anyone knows are regulated, why the hell would a reasonable person even suspect that your typical storefront shop - even a seemingly innocuous one as this - might be "illegal"?


      1. That's the reality of zoning laws. I have friends who opened up a production brewery a couple years ago. Recently they started giving tours and, naturally, selling t-shirts and pint glasses at the end of the tour. They got a letter from the mayor's office saying that if they sell merchandise on premise they become a retailer under the law in violation of their zoning designation. So they can display their merchandise but people have to go home and order them online if they actually want to buy something.

        1. What if they give the merchandise away but charge for the time to do so? "The T-shirt is free but it'll cost you $16.99 for me to put it in a bag and give you a receipt. Mugs are smaller so I'll only charge you $7.49 for the bag for it."

          1. I had the same thought. I ran it past a buddy I went to law school with who does municipal law and his response was basically you don't want to fight city hall on that one. They'll probably just offer "VIP" tours that include merch, since you have to buy tickets online anyway.

    3. Oh, and you have to give your employees medical leave...and you can't smoke in your own building...and you must allow someone in a wheelchair to see the food prep if someone NOT in a wheelchair can...and you need to post posters about minimum wage, and OSHA, and FMLA, and young workers.....and on and on and on and on. Soon we will have paradise on earth.

      1. My barber of 40 years still smoke in his own shop while he cuts heads. Good for him says I.

        1. I think in many states there are exemptions to "No Smoking" laws for businesses with no, or very few, employees.

    4. You know, I have often wondered if Timothy Dexter fucks sheep. Anybody know for certain?

      1. I've not seen him in the fields, but will keep an eye out for him.

        1. Perhaps they car pool.

  10. When do we get the followup about how Mr. Bobrow has moved his wonderful amusementorium to a township that isn't entirely peopled with dickmunchers and doucheguzzlers?

    1. RTFA

      He went broke when the town shut him down and had to sell everything.

      1. Well, now i feel pretty vindicated in not R'ingTFA. In fact, I'd rather you had lied to me about it. Thanks for the downer, MP.

        1. But you didn't hear the rest of the story! When they were shutting down the place, a movie producer happened to drive up to check it out, and bought the story from him for $100K and a piece of the gross.*

          *In the movie the pinball arcade will be an outreach center for underprivileged youth, the owner will be a single mother struggling to support her own kids, the zoning inspector will be a Cheney-like Republican intent on forcing the poor minority families out of town, and the owner's love interest will be an idealistic young city attorney whose job it is to enforce the code in court, but who falls in love with the beleaguered owner and her troubled but golden hearted charges, sees the error of his ways, and helps to save the day by getting the new law passed just in the nick of time, saving the center. The Cheney like zoning inspector is fired in a dramatic comeuppance and everybody lives happily ever after.

          1. You mean a piece of the net profits, not gross. Nobody in Hollywood gives out gross profit points, but freely give out net points to everybody. Of course, every single movie ever made loses money under Hollywood accounting rules, so net profit points are completely worthless.

            1. It's my fucking story, and if I want him to have a piece of the gross, he gets it.


      2. Sad. I wish I'd know about this place a year ago, would have dropped lots of cash on several hours of play.

  11. "It's unfortunate," the city's zoning administrator said, "but ignorance of the law is no excuse."

    But apparently plain old ignorance IS an excuse to be a douchebag and shut the place down.

    1. "What? Curb stomping city inspectors drunk with power is illegal? Well, silly 'ol ignorant me."

  12. Ignorance of the law is not excuse. EXCEPT it the case of being a lawmaker who breaks the very law they voted to pass. Then it is just hunky dorrie.

  13. Always good to screw the people who elected you just to enforce a dated law. Hope all the bastards get voted out.

  14. "It's unfortunate," the city's zoning administrator said, "but ignorance of the law is no excuse."

    There is absolutely no reason why he couldn't have gone before the Mayor and the Town Council and said "You know people, this law is fucking stupid. Are you sure you want me to enforce it?" Because, in the end, it's his employers who are the final judges of his quality of work. Blind allegiance to the manual is not what I'd be looking for in an employee.

    After approaching the town, they could have easily said "Give it six months. We're going to look into changing the law." Problem solved.

    But it wasn't done this way because all of these asshole zoning enforcers thrive on their power to tell other people what to do. I hate them all.

    1. Tell me again where you live, MP?

  15. "inspectors took notice only after reading a newspaper article about the museum last spring."

    This mindset is astonishing... "hey look, people have good clean fun. I wonder if I can put an end to that." Hopefully, this will be dealt with in the DSM-V.

    But at least this wasn't a Balko story... in that version, the place would have stayed open despite the "law"... and you know the rest...

    1. Yes, yes. I know it all too well.

  16. Mr. Bobrow says that after being closed for three months and having to repay deposits from customers, he is now broke. He is selling his house and liquidating his collection. The storefront is now one more vacant one, and you can bet that Beacon won't find a similar attraction to replace the museum.

    "You can't shut a business down for three months, especially in the summer, and expect it to survive," Mr. Bobrow said.

    SORRY, tax base. Enjoy unemployment, zoning motherfucker.

    1. Open for two years, the Retro Arcade Museum in Beacon, N.Y., eventually fell victim to a city ban on amusement arcades, which has since been eased....Timothy Dexter, the building inspector and zoning administrator, said that Mr. Bobrow's business was out of compliance from the start and that inspectors took notice only after reading a newspaper article about the museum last spring.

      Sharp as a fucking bowling ball, eh Timmay?

      That corner lot must be prime real estate. I wonder which other business was coveting that spot?

  17. Ignorance of how to not be a raging dick is not an excuse for being one.

  18. Found another article about it: Owner: Law too late to save Beacon arcade

    Choice quote:

    "This is very, very unfortunate," Mayor Steve Gold said. "You just can't turn away from the law, but the day the business closed, we made it a point to work on that law....
    "This place was not a negative. It was becoming a real tourist attraction," he said. "Hopefully, someone will come in and take over this business ..."

    What an asshole.

    1. Hey Pip, do you think Beacon Mayor, Steve Gold fucks sheep? Your opinion matters to me.

      1. We're all sheepfuckers now.

      2. Probably not. Why would sheep want to fuck Beacon Mayor, Steve Gold?

    2. The mayor is a complete fool. The owner had to sell his house and liquidate the collection. How could anyone take over the business?

      And, they started to work on the law the day the business closed? Seems they elect the truly brain-dead in Beacon.

    3. So the mayor says:

      (1) This place was not a problem.

      (2) The law needs to be amended, and we plan to amend it.

      (3) Nonetheless, we are shutting him down, and I hope somebody else takes over the business he built up that we just curbstomped.

      The smug, stupid arrogance just burns.

    4. "someone" = one of sheepfucker mayor Gold's buddies.

    5. sounds like someone well connected will come in and buy the assets at a huge discount, the zoning will magically and swiftly be changed, then the campaign contributions will flow freely

  19. One of the many reasons that the phrase "law and order libertarian" makes my skin crawl.

  20. Mark Knopfler:

    And now I'm searching through these carousels and carnival arcades, searching everywhere from steeplechase to palisades...

  21. Millions of Americans somehow manage to own and operate their businesses legally.

    1. No, most of them are breaking some law. Fortunately for them, the government can't hope to enforce all of the idiotic laws on the books.

      1. There are those who say the government can't hope to enforce all of the idiotic laws on the books. Let me be clear. I refuse to be forced into the false choice between stupidity and utopia.

      2. This. And it can't be emphasized enough.

    2. No, they just fly under the radar, like this one did until the wrong person happened to read an article about what a really cool place it was in the local newspaper.

      Now seriously, how fucked up is that?

      1. Retro Arcade Museum and Baby Boomer Antiques

        Sad for him, but he was just another Boomer parasite, wasn't he? You know, one of that generation that ruined America?

        1. No.

          The parasites ruined him.

  22. The mayor of Beacon:
    Steve Gold

    City administrator:
    Meredith Robson

    Head of Building Dept.:
    Timothy Dexter

    We should let these asshats know how we feel about this. Also, their mayor is up for re-election as is their city council.

    And just to get some blood boiling, I can happily report that their mayor who is running for re-election also sits on the Duchess County Board of Elections that just ruled an otherwise ineligible Democrat would be put on the ballot even though she failed to meet petition deadlines.

    So, they're not only into limiting private property rights in a Byzantine manner. They're into petty party politics and cronyism as well. Looks like the Democrat machine is pretty well lubricated up there.

  23. "the Duchess County Board of Elections that just ruled an otherwise ineligible Democrat would be put on the ballot even though she failed to meet petition deadlines."

    Wouldn't that be illegal?

    1. Not if we do it. Get with the program, Timmy.

    2. One would think it would be illegal. From his website (goldforbeacon.com):

      "Experience working for Dutchess County:
      Currently, Steve is Election Supervisor of the Dutchess County Board of Elections under the leadership of Democratic Commissioner Fran Knapp and Deputy Daniel French. In that role he supervises over 500 Democratic Election Inspectors, 25 Election Coordinators, trains over 1,000 Election Inspectors (both Democratic and Republican) and manages 249 election districts in 131 poll site locations throughout Dutchess County."

      I've been looking for the article about the admission of the candidate who failed to get on the ballot the right way but can't find it again. I'll post it when I find it again.

      You'd think it would be a conflict of interest and certainly against ethics rules for a sitting mayor to be the head of the County Board of Elections. In this day and age, nothing surprises me.

      You know what I think needs to happen. All Congressional Districts need to be randomly drawn with computer modelling after the census numbers are in. No district could resemble the previous districts (except where a state has only one). That would end this drawing of districts where the two parties evenly divide 80% of the nation evenly and fight over the remaining 20%. I don't know if it would solve this problem. I think it would take some convictions and prison time to solve, but it would end this entrenched pilitical machinery that keeps these two parties full of fuck-ups like the honorable Mr. Gold in power year after year.

      1. You ever drink sloopyinca cola?

      2. My solution is to just put all congressional districts in each state in a pool, and let everyone vote for their very favorite candidate. That would more accurately reflect the distribution of values, I think, plus third parties might slip a candidate or two in.

        1. Cumulative voting? They're trying that in Peoria, IL and Amarillo, TX.

          I'd love to see it, but I'm sure there'd be a way the two parties would lock us out.

          Could you imagine how big the ballot would be in California? You'd have at least 200 people on it. I'd sure love to cast my 53 votes for a libertarian. It beats the hell out of the 1 I get to cast now (since I'm recognizable at the polling station due to my whiteness, I'm afraid to show up more than once like so many do).

          1. No, the idea is you would still only vote for one candidate in your pool. That means you'd get your very most favorite number one choice for all seats.

    3. Those are just guidelines for the major parties. They're only laws for third parties.

    4. The major parties missed filing deadlines in Indiana in, hmm, '88 I believe, and Texas last time. The general result is "deadlines are for little people", everyone laughs heartily and the machine rolls on.

      Ignorance of the law is always an excuse when you decide it doesn't apply to you.

  24. Any updates on whether Timothy Dexter or Steve Gold of Beacon, NY fuck sheep?

    1. Joel pile has said he has not run into them. But he didn't rule out that Steve Gold Fucks sheep. Or that Timothy Dexter fucks sheep. So it's still up in the air.

    2. Anyone ever see any pictures of Meredith Robson getting fucked by a sheep? If so, that would settle that debate. Of course, they could be photoshopped, so who can say?

      1. Even if she is a bottom (if?) it would still be proper to say that Meredith Robson fucks sheep, wouldn't it?

        1. You could always say Meredith Robson gets fucked by sheep - that would probably be more grammatically correct.

          1. School must be out.

            1. When the last chick I was banging got caught on it by her boyfriend (txt messages), he confronted her while we were together. He said, "I can't believe you're fucking this guy."

              Although somewhat insulting, it sounded gramatically fine to me then, so saying that Meredith Robson fucks sheep should be OK.

            2. You must be new here.

            3. N00b is n00bish

  25. Reason needs to trademark "_____ fucks sheep"

    1. Shouldn't that be "Does ___ fuck sheep?" thereby avoiding the whole libel thing. Or isn't that the idea?

  26. This place sounds fantastic!

    My favorite pinball game was Bride of Pinbot:the Machine.

  27. Why should the town have to live with the excess of fun produced by this place? Huh? Externality!

  28. Ignorance of the law is no excuse for being an officious cunt.

    I like my version better.

  29. Truly appalling.

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