by LUKE BAUMGARTEN & r & & r & Hard Rain's Gonna Fall & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & R & lt;/span & emember when, in February 2003, a pyrotechnic malfunction at a Great White show in Rhode Island caused a fire that killed 100 concertgoers? That was effed up, right? Tragic. And a really long time ago. And a long way away. Bet you'd thought we'd heard the last of it. We haven't.
A bill inspired by the catastrophe was passed by the Washington state Legislature in 2007 and is being hailed by some club owners as a whole new kind of tragedy. Rather than banning onstage explosions, you see, or requiring better emergency exit access, House Bill 1811 requires sprinkling systems in all Washington "nightclubs" by December 2009. And that shit ain't cheap.
What wasn't certain was which of our area venues would be tabbed as "nightclubs." Now we know. Basically all of them.
On March 17, Spokane Fire Marshal Lisa Jones sent a letter to every major music venue in town (except the Big Easy, the Service Station, which have sprinkler systems, and Caterina Winery) saying clubs have until April 30 to prove they don't fit the designation. Otherwise, sprinklers -- which cost tens of thousands of dollars and will likely bankrupt many clubs -- gotta go in.
Since this thing's already law and not likely to be changed, we at the ol' Inlander have been thinking up creative ways to get around it. The bill states that theaters with fixed seating (the Bing, the Fox, etc.) and "lodge halls" are exempt. One idea, then, is transferring club ownership to fraternal organizations like the Masons. How about this: The Brotherhood of Reindeers' Empyrean Lodge? Or the Fraternal Order of Musk Oxen Lodge at the Blvd.? We think we're onto something. We'll let you know how it works out.
Last week, in a story about how local independent record stores are dealing with the worldwide decline in album sales, we incorrectly identified the Long Ear in Coeur d'Alene as offering "adult novelties." We meant to convey that the store sells what Manager Nic Fritze characterized as novelties (beaded curtains, jewelry, pewter figurines, etc.) targeted at adult audiences. It was not in any way our intent to suggest that the Long Ear sells sex toys. It doesn't. We regret the misunderstanding.