POLICE Troubles at Kita-Senju

Here is a story from my dear friend Eddie Landsberg-san. I constantly heard he had a big problem with his neighbour Karaoke-bar, but recently the problem seems to be becoming bigger and bigger…

I hope the problem with be cleared completely up in the near future (in a peaceful way), both in Eddie-san’s point of view as well as his neighbour’s standpoint.

Eddie-san was born and raised in Philly, PA, but now he is a real “Shita Machi” person in Tokyo, Japan. I am certain that he is really “doing in Tokyo as Tokyo’s Shita Machi people do”. It’s simply fine.

This is Eddie (Hammond Organ) – – Last I wrote to you I told you that I opened a small Organ Bar in Kita Senju… this time I’m writing to tell you that we’re under attack…
The sessions have been enormously successful (You can see the pics on my website http://www5a.biglobe.ne.jp/~tomspro/66588385/ – at our Saturday Jam sessions we get a full house not that we’re the largest spot in the world… but where else in Shitmamachi (yet alone Tokyo) can you get to hear great music for only Y500 (music charge), and get a whole bottle of shochu for Y1500, or beer by the mug for Y500… –
Anyway, all was going well until the Karaoe Bar owner next door decided he didn’t like our shop and began a campaign of constantly calling the police, whether or not we have live music. (To clarify the situation : he does karaoke music 7 afternoons a night… our current music schedule is Saturday Nights plus 2 special Sunday sessions… To reduce sound we have the Leslie cut back by half, a special “practise” drum set, and don’t allow amplification except for voclaists or soft instruments.)
– Anyway, at first the police said, “We have no choice but to respond to the complaints…” then said that we weren’t breaking the law… But after the Karaoke bar ownerintensified the campaign, it seems as if Tokyo Metropolitan Police wanted to know why the Senju Police weren’t resolving the problem… Unfortunately, it seems that the Senju police realize the guy has a few screws loose and decieded to start pressuring us instead…
So last time they came, they asked my wife to come to the station and said that we should close our shop and move elsewhere. – – They didn’t order us… its just advice, but when police ASK you to come to the station during business hours… to me that borders on being a squeeze, and suddenly began implying that our club is disturbing the peace… One officer even told me that I could potentially be arrested (*the implication was that they were being kind and looking the other way.) – – The problem I have is, if you take a LATE NIGHT walk through Kita Senju, you’ll hear other Karaoke bars BLASTING loud enka… sometimes well after midnight. IZAKAYAS have loud and drunken customers who can be heard up the block. In contrast, our club has a sound reinforced door… I’m not saying that our sessions don’t get noisy… but the other neighboring shops say that the music can’t be heard in their shop, and for once a week it isn’t so bad. – – The only shop complaining is a NOISY KARAOKE bar who’s music can be heard in our shop… however, the police are saying things like, “Well, the guy is crazy… he can become violent… there’s no solution… so you should get out…”
However beyond this is another problem : Each time the police are called (*anonymously, but we know its next door because at the same time he’s been calling the landlord, landowner, and has made “yakuza” threats against us) they come EN MASSE – – by that I mean a squad car and up to 4 bicycle cops… They stand in front of our shop… and literally force us to stop our business…. We have no help… customers can’t order drinks, get food or check out…. and new customers won’t come in when a shop is SURROUNDED by the police.
– We complained about this and the police said, “Shogunai… we have to come out…” – But we said, “Many calls were placed when there was no music… That’s “eigyo bogai” – – why can’t the caller be investigated…” Further, “Shogunai” is o.k. for a SALARIED police officer, but to disrupt a business that is just BREAKING EVEN and who’s owners are struggling is disgraceful… Now the police are suggesting we should simply close shop and move… I said to the officer, “And where would we get the money ?” and she said, “That’s not the issue…”
This week, we have stopped our session pending further legal advice… Unfortunately, without the session our club will not be able to pay the rent… further, we have a right to make music… I’m a JAZZ MUSICIAN, not a snack bar host… If we continue the music, I believe that the crazy guy next door will be a small problem… but disruptions and pressure from the police will be a big proble.
– If there’s any way our story can be made public… I think there’s a small possibility that atleast it would remind the Senju Police that people are watching, so maybe they’d walk the line of the law a bit more carefully…

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