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Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em. Wait. Bad Idea.

I just got an e-mail from a Friend of Unfair Park concerning his getting popped by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for -- get this -- smoking at Gezellig on Lower Greenville Avenue. This is what he has to say, and after the jump, TABC's repsonse.

This past Saturday night the TABC jackboots came down on us. We were in a Lower Greenville watering hole listening to some live music. Ashtrays were widely available and no one was telling us not to smoke. TABC came in and started handing out tickets to everyone with a cigarette.

I know smoking is unfashionable these days, but for God's sake it's a BAR! I also know that technically all the establishments on Lower Greenville are supposed to be restaurants.

I questioned a very exasperated officer who obviously did not relish going into a bar of intoxicated patrons and telling them it was gonna cost 50 bucks to smoke the cigarette in their hands. He stated that an establishment must make 70% of it's revenue from liquor sales. I sure didn't see anyone eating at the bar.

So Deep Ellum is dead and now we're gonna kill Greenville?

TABC officials in Austin couldn't confirm or deny the incident. Said a spokesperson: "Typically, we don't enforce munipcial regulations like smoking ordinances." Local TABC officials couldn't be reached: One was out to lunch, while another's in Longview this week. And the night sergeant's out till Wednesday. But we will get to the bottom of it sooner or later.

Either way, says our Friend, he's sure it wasn't the Dallas police handing out the tickets. Dallas police spokesperson Sgt. Gil Cerda says he doesn't know anything about it but promises to get back to us, but it'll be "a while."

In a later e-mail our Friend adds, "A patron was arrested for resisting, the owners were fined, and many of us were issued citations for smoking." The owners of the club couldn't be reached this afternoon. Developing, as the kids say. If, that is, someone ever calls us back. --Robert Wilonsky

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