Here we go again: this morning’s Time-Pic had another letter protesting live music.
Published right at the top of the Letters page, it’s the same old complainers, the moneyed classes in the French Quarter, who can afford to hire big-time plaintiff attorney Stuart Smith to file lawsuits against local bars that have music. As long as these people keep squawking and have the money to hire Smith, who seems to have made it his avocation to get rid of live music in the Quarter and on Frenchmen Street (can the Bywater, Oak Street and St. Claude Avenue be far behind?), I’m sure this won’t be the last time.
The latest whiner is Peter Yokum, who lives at 723 Toulouse Street. Yokum has apparently lived there since 1982 (according to assessor records), but in the mid-‘90s, he says, the noise began to bother him and he started to call the police. He was told that since he was complaining about Bourbon Street, little could be done. Hmmm. Surely Mr. Yokum knew there were bars and music in his area of the French Quarter when he purchased his home a half block from Bourbon Street? Yokum hired an attorney (Stuart Smith) to file a lawsuit against the offending club—Pat O’Brien’s, which has been in business since 1933. There was also a suit file against Court of Two Sisters.
Yokum appeared prominently on local television stations earlier this week wailing about the music, and he also appears on the Stuart Smith-owned website “HeartheNOLAmusic.org.” Yokum’s TV spot came right before a court shot down an appeal by Pat O’Brien’s contesting the suit. His testimony on why he sued Pat O’Brien’s and Court of Two Sisters is here.
Everyone has the right to peace and quiet in their own home. However, I take the stance that if you live in the kitchen you have to take the heat. The French Quarter contains very densely populated areas. The Quarter, particularly Bourbon Street, hosts many entertainment venues that are admittedly too loud. Then there’s the “dueling clubs” syndrome, in which one club turns up its music louder than the rival across the street as a ploy to lure more yahoos who seem to be attracted to the loudest music. (At least that’s what some club owners contend). The volume gets louder as they try to outdo each other, and it gets out of hand.
But at Pat O’Brien’s and Court of Two Sisters? That’s taking it really far. Pat O’s says it plays music in its courtyard but at a low level so as not to interfere with customers’ conversations (it’s background music, apparently). I’ve been to the Court of Two Sisters many times, and the only music I’ve ever heard there is a jazz band. So what is this Yokum talking about? Jazz bands? Crowd noise? Is the crowd noise too much? Should Pat O’Brien’s go out of business because one guy is disturbed by music and events that have taken place there since 1933? Is this just another way for rich Quarterites to convert the neighborhood into a no-music, no-noise zone? Or is it another attempt by Stuart Smith to bully the rest of the city into doing things his way? We know he hates noise, and we know he probably makes some money from the lawsuits he files.
Smith has made his fortune from representing class action suits in the environmental field. Could it be that he sees music—read ”noise” in Smith’s legal brain—as a possible means to a class action lawsuit representing citizens who choose to live in the densest entertainment district in the south and then complain when the music (noise) is too loud for their old ears?
Just speculatin’. But stranger things have been known to happen.