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Early this morning over on DC9, Rich Lopez posted word that John Freeman has closed down the newish yet already beloved Sloppyworld -- only because, well, five Dallas police officers and an assistant city attorney made him.
See, Freeman -- the genius behind Dooms U.K., Dutch Treats and about 539 other bands over the years -- does not yet have a Certificate of Occupancy for the Expo Park venue at 3601 Parry Avenue (the old Millennium spot). Unfair Park spoke a short time ago with Raul Martinez, assistant director for building inspection, and he said Freeman applied for a C.O. on January 24, but that it's under review -- and opening a venue during the review process isn't allowed, not at all. "They should not have opened," Martinez says.
According to city records, the City Attorney's Office issued Freeman a citation for illegal use of property on February 23. And Freeman acknowledges he received it -- it happened, after all, during the weekend of Melodica Festival.
"I was told two different things by a million different people," Freeman tells Unfair Park today. "I was under the impression I could have events there ... Then, last night, when we were about to have the show cops showed up and the assistant D.A. in charge of code enforcement said, 'You can't even be in here.'"
From all accounts, it sounds like a misunderstanding that could have been easily cleared up with a little, oh, clarity. Because according to Freeman, he's paid a good dozen visits to the Oak Cliff Municipal Center to get the Certificate of Occupancy. And, in January, he plunked down his dough and got his official okee-doke -- only, not so much. All he got was a receipt that said, in essence: You've paid to begin the process of getting a C.O. It did not allow him to open the venue.
"No business can open without a C.O.," Martinez says. "We've been having a lot of cases lately where people submit for a C.O. and pay their fee and walk away with a piece of paper that says 'C.O. in review,' and they think it's their C.O. and it's not. We've had to explain that a lot."
At some point, and he says he doesn't know when, Freeman will have to go to court to defend the illegal use of property charge. Maureen Milligan, the assistant city attorney handling the case, says she wants to help Freeman get the place back open. But she was also there last night, closing it down.
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"When we visited Mr. Freeman last night, I know he's frustrated with getting different answers form different personnel at City Hall, and would work with him to make it go more smoothly," Milligan says. "But we did inform him he can't operate without a C.O. That's what our community prosecution team does, though: As long as business owners and property owners are willing to work and comply with the code, we will do our very best to help them work and comply with the code."
One thing is certain at this point: Sloppyworld is closed till further notice. And though Freeman insists the Negativland show scheduled for April 20 will go on, he doesn't know where.
"I'm like, 'What the fuck?' and I guess that was my bad," Freeman says. "As of now, it's in limbo. It ain't over till it's over, but I need lots of help. At this point, I don't know what I'm gonna do. It's such a hassle. I'm talking to my lawyer tomorrow."