Farting Drummer Leads to $500 Fine for Popular D.C. Blues Bar

Musician cracked open window "for five minutes" at the wrong time of night.


Madame's Organ Blues Bar/Facebook

The District of Columbia's Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) has levied a $500 fine against Madam's Organ Blue Bar over a briefly open window. Last June, a musician playing at the venue "opened the window to let a fart out. He cracked it open for five minutes—and the inspector showed up," according to owner Bill Duggan.

In an ABRA letter, the agency states that Madam's Organ's front window was cracked open between 1:30 and 1:33 a.m. A passing enforcement officer noticed it and wrote up the bar for violating a 2008 agreement with the city in which it promised to keep all doors and windows closed after 12:30 a.m. when live music was playing. 

Duggan told the blog Borderstan he's gone "20 fucking years with not one violation … People get stabbed and shot in other establishments. In ours, someone farts, cracks a window, and they spend a year on it." He's considering an appeal. 

To put the situation in a little context, Madam's Organ is located in several-block stretch of D.C.'s Adams Morgan neighborhood that is filled with bars, restaurants, and people pouring up and down the street at night. A few minutes of music emanating from the bar would hardly be a pox on an otherwise sleepy situation.  

"In case you hadn't heard, we were recently fined $500 over a fart back in June 2014," the Madam's Organ Facebook page posted this week. "It took a long time for that gas to clear the air, but the current situation smells even worse."

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  1. Heh, the one bar I actually liked in Adams Morgan.

  2. He cracked it open for five minutes?and the inspector showed up,” according to owner Bill Duggan.

    There’s your efficient government service!

  3. OT:

    Ok, so I just got around to reading Nick’s article on chippergate and I gotta say I REALLY wanna know who it was that determined that everyone who writes at reason would publicly trash the commenters here as being subhuman mouth breathers that they are forced to deal with.

    This actually has been a noticeable trend over the last year or so. The public attitude towards the commentariate on the part of the writers up to that point was that the comments section was a wretched hive of scum and villainy and they were proud to be part of it. Now, they can’t seem to distance themselves from us enough and that started long before chippergate.

    I mean did Matt get pissed off because someone offended him in the 2 minutes of hate or something? Are they all still sucking on Virginia’s tits and so they just automatically followed her lead when she said she hated us? Have they stopped getting invited to the right cocktail parties?

    What they hell is the deal

    1. People (reason writers) need to grow some fucking skin. And get used to COARSE language that may not be appropriate in the parlour…

    2. I agree – they’re doing a little bite the hand thing (how many f the names on the webathon ticker are obviously commenters? Like, half?). And they take it to Twitter and whisper about it like school girls in the bathroom at lunchtime.

      That being said, they are defending us and their setup here. Whether it’s because of pure principle (this) or because they actually like us doesn’t matter, I guess.




      2. Next year, instead of my customary $100-$200 donation (I think I have five T-shirts and a beanie- and ten trashbags full of spam from the people they sold my address to), they’re getting $7.01…

        If your slogan is “free minds and free markets”, you have to support the same- unconditionally!

    3. They have portrayed the commentariat quite accurately.

      1. I disagree.

        Yes, this is a rough and tumble place with plenty of hyperbole and “bad language”, however it also has one of the strongest communities of any publications comments sections and contains just about the highest signal to noise ratio of any open discussion forum on the net and since chippergate they have at best downplayed that aspect of the comments and mostly they have utterly ignored it’s existance.

        More importantly however reason writers used to routinely act like they were part of this same community and proud to be a part of it. In the last 6 months or so however that has changed and now, to use Nick’s phrase they are “cursed” by us.

    4. I agree with you and posted something about this issue earlier today.

      I dare say that other online publications would kill to have the quality of this group of commenters who posts here. Yes, the language is regularly coarse, but just look at the general run of comments on the latest SCOTUS debacle. There are some lively, thoughtful, high quality posts.

      So, yeah, suck it, Nick.

    5. Great. Now any reference to the commentariat will have to compare us to wilting hothouse flowers who can’t stand to be (somewhat accurately, in general) described to be crude and indecent.

      Of course, if your third paragraph is intended to expose the sarcasm of the first two, then, never mind. /Emily Litella

      1. It is not the crude and indecent tags but the blanked dismissal of the commenters as being nothing but crude and indecent mouth breathers.

        Basically it used to be “Our commenters are crude, rude, and indecent but among the smartest on the net and we’re glad to to be associated with them” and now it is “Our commenters are crude, rude, and indecent morons that we have to tolerate in the name of free speech but we’d really rather you not associate them with us”.

  4. I was glad to see that Ruthanne Miller, the Chairperson, was reasonable:

    “I concur with the majority’s finding of liability in this case, but I dissent as to the penalty
    imposed. I would issue a warning.
    In my view, the evidence shows that a window was open at approximately 1:30 a.m.
    when the band was playing, in violation of the literal reading of the settlement agreement.
    Supra, at ~ 6. However, I find no evidence to support the maximum penalty allowed under the
    statute that the majority has imposed, nor does the majority provide any rationale for such a
    penalty. To the contrary, I find that the following mitigating factors warrant a warning:

    (1) This establishment has a long record of compliance with both the ABRA laws and
    regulations and the establishment’s settlement agreement with ANC IC. ABRA Licensing File
    No. ABRA-025273, Investigative History; In re 2461 Corp. tla Madam’s Organ Restaurant, Case
    No. 35287-07/025P, Board Order No. 20008-202. This was the Respondent’s first secondary tier

    (2) The establishment was cooperative when the open window was brought to Mr.
    Wilcox’s attention. Supra, at ~ ~ 8, 13.

    (3) There is no evidence that the window was open for more than five minutes. Supra, at
    ~~ 1-13.6…”

    1. Part two:

      “(4) It appears that the opening of the window was contrary to the instructions and
      knowledge of the establishment. Supra, at ~ 9, II.

      (5) There was no adverse impact associated with the partially opened window. No one,
      not even the ANC, who is the party to the Settlement Agreement, registered a complaint of
      excessive noise during the time that the window was open on the night of this violation.

      (6) Despite the language in the Settlement Agreement stating that the window remain
      closed, it is not unimaginable nor unreasonable that a window may be opened briefly for air as in
      this case, by a third party other than the establishment.

      Accordingly, in light of the de minimis nature of the violation, and the positive and
      reasonable actions by the establishment, I am of the opinion that a warning, not a maximum
      penalty, is warranted in this matter.

      Ruthanne Miller, Chairperson”

  5. Adams Morgan at night is a right cacophony (much like the reason commentariat) at night. This is what comes with one party rule, with no opposition (token David Catania doesn’t count). They make any rule they want, at any time, for any reason, without opposition.

  6. Nobody who lives in Washington DC has any reasonable expectation of peace and quiet. I know. I lived there for seven years and in the vicinity for rather more.

  7. Going down the highway, going eighty-four,
    Johnny cut a gasser, and it blew me out the door!
    The engine exploded, the chassis fell apart,
    All because of Johnny’s supersonic fart!

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  10. I really want to know who found that everyone writes a reason. being an analyst I amazed how it leads to fine so much. i gotta say if you still not visit Kodi then check it out for better video experience related to it.

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