Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lots of News Newsletter

Newsletter – February 10, 2008

It has been quite a week in Laguna Beach. There has been lots of interest in our Post Card Campaign to try and persuade Mr. Udvar-Hazy to reduce his asking price for the Coast Inn or consider donating it. It seems to be the “shot heard ‘round the world.” There has been extensive coverage at home, around the U.S and the world through CNNmoney.com, Yahoo News and other News Services. Let’s start with a wonderful column by Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot Editor, Cindy Frazier. She discusses a wide range of issues affecting the gay community and the city at large. Then enjoy an incredible Valentine cartoon by Lukash that also appeared in this week’s Coastline Pilot.

There are links to some of the coverage that we received from CNN to several business and gay publications. And there are other stories in the works.

And finally, the New York based Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) weighed in quite strongly regarding Mr. Udvar-Hazy’s insensitive quote in last week’s Laguna Beach Independent. He said in discussing the landmark 80 year old Coast Inn that was home to the 61 year old Boom Boom Room, “This is a commercial property not a trophy for one group.” Well, GLAAD President Neil Giuliano had this to say in response to his statement.

“Mr. Hazy’s comments clearly show his lack of understanding about thevibrant history of this landmark property. This is much more than a building. It’s an identity for a community so often marginalized by society.”

The Post Card campaign has been very successful. We have hundreds of signed card that are being sent into Mr. Udvar-Hazy’s office up in Los Angeles. We are collecting post cards from all over and they are readily signed. There have even been offers from store owners in Laguna to distribute them to their customers. We are eternally grateful for everyone’s help on this project. And we will keep you updated as we work hard this winter to SAVE the BOOM – Forever!!!

Thank you for your interest and support!

Fred Karger

February 7, 2007LUMBERYARD LOGS:Greed trumps gay identity
By Cindy Frazier
Reader Feedback -
The struggle over the future of the defunct Boom Boom Room — and by proxy Laguna’s gay-friendly identity — continues to roil.Great umbrage has been taken over comments made in the heat of a Laguna Beach City Council meeting regarding a restaurant’s hours, which are being construed as disrespectful to the gay community.Proponents of additional hours at Sapphire are accused of calling that restaurant a more desirable business than Woody’s at the Beach or the Boom, both gay establishments that are no more.I wasn’t at the meeting in question but find it hard to believe comments of that ilk were intentionally made by any of the persons so accused. It seems more likely that comments about the high traffic level and lack of parking at the Boom and Woody’s may have been made in an effort to contrast those nightspots with the Sapphire operation.Whether the reasoning is right, the hurt is real.Feelings about the fragility of Laguna’s gay community have been ripped raw by the closure of the Boom in September and Woody’s last year — and the real loss is just now starting to hit people.Now, comments attributed to the current owner of the historical Boom property are reportedly attracting attention from GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a national activist group.The purported statement in a local paper by Boom owner Steven Udvar-Hazy — one of the world’s wealthiest men — that “the property is a commercial property and not identified with any one group” is being seen as not only insulting but insensitive.But who’s really been insensitive to the gay community in Laguna?Both of these properties were sold by their gay-friendly owners for wads of cash. We have it on good authority that the owners of the Boom property, including the adjacent hotel and ocean view residence, bought the place for $2 million and sold it for $9 million to the current owner.Oh yes, they were weeping all the way to the bank and tearing out their hair over the demise of Laguna’s “gay zone” and the “insult” to the 80-year-old gay community here. The owner of Woody’s also made a bundle turning over that long-standing gay establishment — beloved for years as Little Shrimp, a piano bar — to an upscale Mexican restaurant chain. Talk about selling out a community!It seems the former owners of these spots had no qualms about turning over these gay bedrocks to “commercial” interests.Woody’s owner has decamped for Palm Springs, where he has other business interests that apparently took precedence over Laguna’s.We understand the Boom owners sought a “gay” operator for a year who would keep the place a gay icon before the current owner offered to more than quadruple their investment.But is it reasonable to believe that no gay buyer came forward, or is it more believable that no billionaire gay buyer came forward with an astronomical amount of money to plunk down in order to keep the community from insult?Now it seems this insult to Laguna’s gay identity is spreading far and wide.Out-of-towners are murmuring that Laguna’s traditional welcome mat to gays and lesbians has been rolled up. The city is being accused of “gay unfriendliness,” and we are hearing “the word is out” on Laguna that gays are no longer welcome here. This adds injury to insult and is simply unsupported by anything we have gleaned from those in the know or on the street.I asked former Mayor Wayne Peterson whether he felt Laguna was losing its gay-friendly quality, and he looked downright puzzled.I asked him whether gays were leaving the city in large numbers as is rumored, and the former mayor shook his head “no.”The population is changing, perhaps, and baby boomers no longer rely on places like the Boom to socialize, but gays and lesbians are very much here.But something is missing — the gay bar scene that used to predominate is no more.The question is how to get it back — if indeed that would be the key to reviving the gay-friendly identity.When asked if the city needs a gay and lesbian community center like the one in West Hollywood, Peterson demurred, but noted there are gays in Laguna “with more money than God.” No doubt. Donate the Boom?In the midst of this insult-fest, Fred Karger of Save the Boom is upping the ante and hoping to pressure the corporate owner of Udvar-Hazy’s airplane leasing firm, American International Group Inc., to persuade him to donate the Boom property to a gay-oriented owner.This might sound laughable, but Karger thinks it is possible Udvar-Hazy could make out nicely by taking a tax loss on the property that he can’t sell at a modest profit of a million or so.AIG, one of Fortune magazine’s top-10 ranked businesses, owns scads of insurance companies but is at the bottom in terms of gay and lesbian issues on the Human Rights Campaign list.HRC, which tracks progress in gay/lesbian issues in the corporate world, also tracks charitable giving, and Karger believes a gift of the Boom Boom Room property to a trust or to the city of Laguna Beach would go a long way toward raising its status on this list. The trust could put the Boom Boom Room back in business — and save AIG’s face in the gay community. How a bar and nightclub — of any sexual persuasion — could be considered appropriate for a city or a nonprofit to operate is another story.But perhaps the Human Rights Campaign would like to weigh in on who sold out Laguna’s gay community.
CINDY FRAZIER is city editor of the Coastline Pilot. She can be reached at


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