Monday, June 27, 2005

Free Coffee

Okay, I doubt that many will feel much sympathy for this adult theater in Pittsburgh, but free speech ought to count for something, and at least the coffee is free:
The Garden is the last remaining adult theater in Pittsburgh. The city has spent eight years trying to take the property from its owner, George Androtsakis of New York, to help redevelop the rundown area around the North Avenue theater.

So far, the city has spent more than $700,000 attempting to buy a building whose assessed value is $313,500. The legal fight has reached the state Supreme Court; the U.S. high court ruling certainly doesn't hurt the city's chances of eventually prevailing.

Which would be bad news for the two Garden employees I spoke with -- the manager, a man in his 30s of apparent Indian descent, and the cashier, who looked in his mid-40s and had letters spelling out "hate" tattooed on the knuckles of his right hand.

At the risk of stating the obvious, neither gentleman was willing to give his name.

Asked whether they are concerned the Supreme Court decision might eventually cost them their jobs, the manager responded indifferently. "If it happens, it happens," he said. "We would have to find new jobs, I guess."

The cashier nodded.

"I've been a cook, bused tables, done construction," he said. "I got two kids. I do whatever it takes to support my family."

The manager, who said he has worked at the Garden for four years, claimed not to have followed the lengthy legal wrangling over the theater.

"I don't pay attention to all of the other stuff," he said. "I'm just trying to run a decent theater."

I pointed to a sign above a table with a large urn and plenty of paper cups.

"The free coffee is a nice touch," I said.

The manager shrugged. "People seem to like it," he said.